Tag Archives: Presidency of George W. Bush

SIX REASONS THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT ISN’T HURRICANE KATRINA

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President George W. Bush and Katrina support team.

Those who compare the Obamacare website failure to hurricane Katrina don’t seem to see the obvious flaw(s) in their “logic”.

The New Yorker – John Cassidy

Friday was the day when the world came down on top of President Obama—or, rather, theTimes did. In a scathing editorial, the Grey Lady lambasted the “incompetence of the administration in ushering in reforms that millions have been waiting for.” On the paper’s front page, one of its White House correspondents, Michael D. Shear, wrote that the “disastrous rollout” of the Affordable Care Act not only threatens the rest of the President’s agenda, “but also raises questions about his competence in the same way that the Bush administration’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina undermined any semblance of Republican efficiency.”

In writing about the rollout of the A.C.A., I, too, have used the term “disaster.” Referring to the over-all situation, I’ve also said that “it’s a mess.” But Hurricane Katrina? I can easily imagine why Republican politicians are making the comparison—it casts President Obama in a terrible light. But does it really stand up? I don’t think so, and here are six reasons why:

1) Obama got out of Air Force One: Whatever you think of it, and I’ve always had mixed feelings about it, the A.C.A. is a historic and proactive piece of legislation that was intended to fulfill Obama’s campaign promise of universal health care. Even if it were to fail, and it’s far too early to reach any conclusions about what its ultimate results will be, the President would deserve credit for tackling an issue that’s been festering for half a century or more. He saw a problem and walked toward it rather than away from it. And now that things have gone awry, he’s taken responsibility. “(T)hat’s on me,” he said on Thursday, while introducing some emergency fixes that will allow some purchasers of individual insurance policies to keep their existing plans.

Hurricane Katrina was a natural disaster, and such calamities are tough for any government to handle. The most damaging charge against President Bush isn’t that the rescue operation encountered difficulties—that was inevitable—but that he failed to take proactive steps. Rather than exercising leadership and mobilizing the nation’s resources to rescue a city that was literally underwater, he was passive, leaving the job to an underfunded and badly managed federal agency. To this day, one of the most damaging images of his Presidency is of him flying over New Orleans on Air Force One, looking out of the window at the devastation below, but not ordering the plane to land.

2) Nobody’s been killed: This one, I owe to Slate’s admirable Matt Yglesias. As he pointed out on Friday morning, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-three people died during and after Hurricane Katrina made landfall. How many would have been saved if the federal rescue program had been more effective, it is impossible to say. But the number almost certainly isn’t zero. In the “disaster” that is the A.C.A. rollout, a hundred and six thousand Americans have signed up for new individual insurance policies, and more than a hundred and sixty thousand have signed up for Medicaid. Those figures are a lot lower than the administration had been hoping for, but, as far as I know, they haven’t proved fatal to anybody.

3) This time, there is no “Brownie”: To put it kindly (very kindly), the Department of Health and Human Services doesn’t appear to have done a good job of building and testing Healthcare.gov. But the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services, the agency within the Department of Health and Human Services that is responsible for the Web site, is run not by one of President Obama’s cronies but by Marilyn Tavenner, a veteran of the health-care industry who spent twenty-odd years working for Hospital Corporation of America. And Henry Chao, the C.M.S. official who oversaw the actual construction of the site, is a twenty-year veteran of the agency. While they haven’t covered themselves in glory, both appear to have been reasonably qualified for their jobs, which was hard to say about Michael Brown, the lawyer and friend of President Bush who was serving as the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency when Katrina hit, and who was the unfortunate subject of the president’s immortal remark, “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job.”

4) The war in Iraq is over: Hurricane Katrina struck in August, 2005, just as the insurgency in Iraq was entering its bloodiest phase. At that juncture, the White House was already facing heavy criticism because of its handling of the conflict. The pictures of death and destruction in New Orleans, which conveyed the impression that the federal government was powerless to intercede here at home, did untold damage to the Bush Administration’s reputation. It was almost as if it couldn’t do anything right.

The situation now is a bit different. While the Obama Administration faces a divided Congress, which makes it very difficult to pass any legislation, the White House has just won a significant political victory in the showdown over the budget and the debt ceiling. The country is at peace, and the President, until very recently, had high personal approval ratings. In the past few weeks, these have fallen sharply, which is hardly surprising. But at least his problems are restricted to one area: the A.C.A. There isn’t the pervasive sense of crisis, borne out of the war in Iraq, that blighted Bush’s second term.

5) Despite it all, Healthcare.gov appears to be fixable: Large-scale public-sector technology projects are often fraught with problems—something the Administration should have anticipated. In the worst-case scenarios, entire systems sometimes have to be scrapped and replaced with something better. That’s what happened in Britain a few years ago, when the National Health Service tried (and failed) to put patient records online. In this case, though, none of the experts inside or outside the Administration I’ve seen quoted have suggested that such an outcome is likely.

This looks like a repair job rather than a start-over project. It may take a while, and there’s likely to be some gremlins even after the Administration’s self-imposed deadline of December 1st. But, as far as I can make out, none of the individual problems that have been uncovered are insurmountable. It’s largely a matter of building additional capacity on the front end of the system—some of this has already been done—and repairing bugs on the back end, which had been sending incomplete and inaccurate information to insurers. This work, too, seems to be progressing.

6) The “disaster” narrative doesn’t yet represent the final cut: Once the Bush Administration had failed the immediate test of responding to Hurricane Katrina, there wasn’t much it could do to change the story. The victims were dead. The pictures from the Louisiana Superdome and other locales were lodged in the consciousness of the American public. Rebuilding a region hit by a natural disaster is, by its nature, a long and largely thankless task. But fixing Obamacare is different. If, and it’s a big if, in the next couple of weeks the Administration can get Healthcare.gov working fully—or even close to fully—it will make a big difference to how the A.C.A. is represented in the media and viewed by the American public.

At the moment, the people featured in news stories are mostly the losers from the reform—young, healthy people who want to keep their cheap, and sometimes inadequate, insurance policies. Meanwhile, many of the potential winners from the reform—families who earn low to moderate incomes, older people, people with preëxisting conditions who struggled to get any insurance—can’t get onto the Web site to enroll in new policies. If this changes, the media narrative will change with it. Reporters will find more people who like their new policies, and the generous subsidies that come with them. More attention will be paid to the state insurance exchanges, some of which are working pretty well. And some diligent journalists will even report on the steady rise in the number of people enrolling in Medicaid, many of whom didn’t have any insurance at all previously.

Taken together, these things could have a big impact on how Obamacare is perceived. Whatever happens, the rollout will be looked back upon as a big screwup. But the story’s ending has yet to be written.

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Filed under GOP Conspiracies, GOP Duplicity

5 biggest ways the media misled America this month

5 biggest ways the media misled America this month

Joe Klein

In my opinion, Salon nails it in the following analysis:

Salon

We just had one of our nation’s most important foreign policy debates in years — and the media made us dumber…

We just witnessed several weeks of unfolding diplomatic events whose consequences could have life-or-death implications. But if you were expecting the press to give you the full story on Syria, you left disappointed.

Here are five things that (most of) the press got totally wrong in reporting on the Syria story over the last month.

1. Obama’s presidency rested on winning the Congressional vote

This was a common theme in the press leading up to the since-delayed Congressional vote, and it’s vastly overstated, at best. Presidents lose all the time…and then come back and win the next time. It’s probably true that a president’s influence, both on the Hill and with other people he bargains with, is marginally diminished by high-profile losses, all else being equal. But presidential influence on (for example) what Members of Congress do is overrated, anyway. Party, what their constituents want, long-standing political alliances, even the personal preferences of Members – all of those are going to be more important than whether the president is up or down.

Not only that, but “the presidency rides on the Syria vote” indulges one of the very worst press biases – that whatever is in the headlines today will be important down the road. Or even tomorrow. Just a few days after the Syria situation was put on hold, everyone’s attention went back to the impending budget showdown, and few of the good stories about leverage in that fight made any mention of Syria. What the whole presidency rested on just last week was instantly forgotten. Which is a perfectly predictable and often repeated phenomenon. The current story always gets hyped.

2. Barack Obama’s goal was war, and the key questions are about whether he gets it

As soon as Obama began talking about an intervention, the press snapped into a 2002 frame: Obama wanted war, and the question was whether or not he would get it. That certainly was the correct way to interpret the Bush administration’s approach to Iraq, but it was unhelpful in thinking about what Obama wanted in Syria. It would have been more accurate to frame it in terms of a goal – Obama’s stated goal – of increasing international norms against use of chemical weapons.

3. Presidents are “deciders” – so the important question is whether they can enforce their decisions

This is an old one, but George W. Bush put it into words, and as with the previous one the Bush experience seems to be driving plenty of the news coverage.

But there’s a different way of looking at the presidency. If presidents are not so much “deciders” as they are initiators, then Obama’s record on Syria looks a lot different. Then, the questions worth asking aren’t about whether he got his way, but things such as whether he made the right choices about what to spend his resources on, whether his initiative was well-timed, whether he did a good job of listening to the information that his initiative generated. And, most importantly, whether the eventual policy was a good one or not. Those are all more important in evaluating his actions, and to the larger questions about policy, than simply how the eventual policy compares with his initial ideas.

4. Presidents are “deciders” – so it’s crucial that they make decisions and stick with them

This one showed up in the aftermath of the sequence in which Obama seized on a new opportunity for a negotiated solution, and asked Congress to hold off voting after all. Again, as with some of the others, this one inexplicably looks back on George W. Bush’s behavior on Iraq as some sort of excellent role model. One would think that the press would rush to embrace flexibility in the White House, but that wasn’t the case during the Syria episode, where pundits like Joe Klein seemed insistent that Bush’s firm resoluteness was the gold standard, with or without context or nuance.

5. We are going to “war”

On this one, I count myself as guilty as anyone.

The press, along with the political establishment, utterly failed to find, or at least to consistently use, a vocabulary for what was on the table. Certainly air or missile strikes are an act of war, and should be reported as such; just as certainly, those sorts of limited attacks always bring with them the risk of additional involvement – either from retaliation or from mission creep. At the same time, calling that “going to war” summons up images of, well, troops marching, and casualties coming home to hospitals or in body bags. Even keeping the risks in mind, that’s not what was being talked about. A vocabulary is really needed to make clear that it is “real” war, but that it’s also not at all similar to Iraq, the Gulf War, or other full-out invasions.

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Filed under Media, Media Myopia

Breaking News: President Obama to nominate James Comey as FBI director

James Comey is pictured. | AP Photo

Comey served twice in the second Bush administration. | AP Photo

Politico

President Barack Obama will announce Friday that he is nominating James Comey, a former hedge fund executive and senior Bush administration official, to be the next director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

A White House official said the president will unveil the long-expected pick — widely reported in late May — at an afternoon ceremony. If confirmed by the Senate, Comey would replace Robert Mueller, who’s led the FBI since September 2001.

The pick puts a registered Republican who served twice in the George W. Bush administration — as U.S. attorney in Manhattan, and deputy attorney general — into an important and sensitive post.

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Filed under FBI, James Comey

When the IRS targeted liberals

When the IRS targeted liberals

Thanks to Jueseppi B. for bringing this to my attention.

So, my question to the “outraged” Tea Party, GOP and most Republicans in general:

Where was your outrage in 2006 when the Bush administration targeted dissenters of his administration?

Salon

Under George W. Bush, it went after the NAACP, Greenpeace and even a liberal church

While few are defending the Internal Revenue Service for targeting some 300 conservative groups, there are two critical pieces of context missing from the conventional wisdom on the “scandal.” First, at least from what we know so far, the groups were not targeted in a political vendetta — but rather were executing a makeshift enforcement test (an ugly one, mind you) for IRS employees tasked with separating political groups not allowed to claim tax-exempt status, from bona fide social welfare organizations. Employees are given almost zero official guidance on how to do that, so they went after Tea Party groups because those seemed like they might be political. Keep in mind, the commissioner of the IRS at the time was a Bush appointee.

The second is that while this is the first time this kind of thing has become a national scandal, it’s not the first time such activity has occurred.

“I wish there was more GOP interest when I raised the same issue during the Bush administration, where they audited a progressive church in my district in what look liked a very selective way,” California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said on MSNBC Monday. “I found only one Republican, [North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones], that would join me in calling for an investigation during the Bush administration. I’m glad now that the GOP has found interest in this issue and it ought to be a bipartisan concern.”

The well-known church, All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena, became a bit of a cause célèbre on the left after the IRS threatened to revoke the church’s tax-exempt status over an anti-Iraq War sermon the Sunday before the 2004 election. “Jesus [would say], ‘Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine,’” rector George Regas said from the dais.

The church, which said progressive activism was in its “DNA,” hired a powerful Washington lawyer and enlisted the help of Schiff, who met with the commissioner of the IRS twice and called for a Government Accountability Office investigation, saying the IRS audit violated the First Amendment and was unduly targeting a political opponent of the Bush administration. “My client is very concerned that the close coordination undertaken by the IRS allowed partisan political concerns to direct the course of the All Saints examination,” church attorney Marcus Owens, who is widely considered one of the country’s leading experts on this area of the law, said at the time. In 2007, the IRS closed the case, decreeing that the church violated rules preventing political intervention, but it did not revoke its nonprofit status.

And while All Saints came under the gun, conservative churches across the country were helping to mobilize voters for Bush with little oversight. In 2006, citing the precedent of All Saints, “a group of religious leaders accused the Internal Revenue Service yesterday of playing politics by ignoring its complaint that two large churches in Ohio are engaging in what it says are political activities, in violation of the tax code,” the New York Times reported at the time. The churches essentially campaigned for a Republican gubernatorial candidate, they alleged, and even flew him on one of their planes.

Meanwhile, Citizens for Ethics in Washington filed two ethics complaints against a church in Minnesota. “You know we can’t publicly endorse as a church and would not for any candidate, but I can tell you personally that I’m going to vote for Michele Bachmann,” pastor Mac Hammond of the Living Word Christian Center in Minnesota said in 2006 before welcoming her to the church. The IRS opened an audit into the church, but it went nowhere after the church appealed the audit on a technicality.

And it wasn’t just churches. In 2004, the IRS went after the NAACP, auditing the nation’s oldest civil rights group after its chairman criticized President Bush for being the first sitting president since Herbert Hoover not to address the organization. “They are saying if you criticize the president we are going to take your tax exemption away from you,” then-chairman Julian Bond said. “It’s pretty obvious that the complainant was someone who doesn’t believe George Bush should be criticized, and it’s obvious of their response that the IRS believes this, too.”

In a letter to the IRS, Democratic Reps. Charles Rangel, Pete Stark and John Conyers wrote: “It is obvious that the timing of this IRS examination is nothing more than an effort to intimidate the members of the NAACP, and the communities the organization represents, in their get-out-the-vote effort nationwide.”

Then, in 2006, the Wall Street Journal broke the story of a how a little-known pressure group called Public Interest Watch — which received 97 percent of its funds from Exxon Mobile one year — managed to get the IRS to open an investigation into Greenpeace. Greenpeace had labeled Exxon Mobil the “No. 1 climate criminal.” The IRS acknowledged its audit was initiated by Public Interest Watch and threatened to revoke Greenpeace’s tax-exempt status, but closed the investigation three months later.

As the Journal reporter, Steve Stecklow, later said in an interview, “This comes against a backdrop where a number of conservative groups have been attacking nonprofits and NGOs over their tax-exempt status. There have been hearings on Capitol Hill. There have been a number of conservative groups in Washington who have been quite critical.”

Indeed, the year before that, the Senate held a hearing on nonprofits’ political activity. Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, the then-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the IRS needed better enforcement, but also “legislative changes” to better define the lines between politics and social welfare, since they had not been updated in “a generation.” Unfortunately, neither Congress nor the IRS has defined 501(c)4′s sufficiently to this day, leaving the door open for IRS auditors to make up their own, discriminatory rules.

Those cases mostly involved 501(c)3 organizations, which live in a different section of the tax code for real charities like hospitals and schools. The rules are much stronger and better developed for (c)3′s, in part because they’ve been around longer. But with “social welfare” (c)4 groups, the kind of political activity we saw in 2010 and 2012 is so unprecedented that you get cases like Emerge America, a progressive nonprofit that trains Democratic female candidates for public office. The group has chapters across the country, but in 2011, chapters in Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada were denied 501(c)4 tax-exempt status. Leaders called the situation “bizarre” because in the five years Nevada had waited for approval, the Kentucky chapter was approved, only for the other three to be denied.

A former IRS official told the New York Times that probably meant the applications were sent to different offices, which use slightly different standards. Different offices within the same organization that are supposed to impose the exact same rules in a consistent manner have such uneven conceptions of where to draw the line at a political group, that they can approve one organization and then deny its twin in a different state.

All of these stories suggest that while concern with the IRS posture toward conservative groups now may be merited, to fully understand the situation requires a bit of context and history.

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Filed under Bush Administration, Internal Revenue Service

13 Reasons To Be Glad Bush Is No Longer President

No matter how they try to white wash the George W. Bush years in the White House, there will always be a stench.

Starting from day one when the United States Supreme Court made an unprecedented decision to declare Bush the winner in Bush v. Gore to Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force which benefited Big Oil.  George Bush and Dick Cheney will be remembered as oligarchs who committed crimes against the American people and humanity, throughout their eight year-long reign of terror.

Think Progress

The five living presidents met in Texas on Thursday to dedicate the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. And while Bush and his aides were using the occasion to soften the 43 president’s image and solidify his legacy, a recounting of Bush-era policies — from his deregulation of Wall Street to the invasion of Iraq — greatly undermine the new rosy narrative of the Bush years:

Authorized the use of torture


Though the US Code bans torture, Bush personally issued a memorandum six days after the September 11th attacks instructing the CIA that it could use “enhanced interrogation techniques” against suspected terrorists. The methods included waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and “stress positions.” A recently-released bipartisan committee concluded it was “indisputable” that these techniques constituted torture, and that the highest authorities in the country bore responsibility for the creation of a torture programs at Guantanamo Bay and CIA “black sites” around the world.

Politicized climate science

Bush’s “do-nothing” approach to climate change prevented the U.S. from pursuing meaningful action. Though he claimed that global warming was a serious problem that was either a natural phenomenon or caused by humans, the administration routinely edited scientific reports to downplay the threat of climate change, censored CDC testimony that climate change was a public health threat, and promoted climate denying studies financed by ExxonMobil. At the end of the Bush presidency, a top intelligence adviser warned the incoming president that climate change was a massive destabilizing national security threat that would lead to “Dust Bowl” conditions in the Southwest.

Ignored Afghanistan to launch a war in Iraq

Rather than consolidating gains after the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Bush and his neoconservative allies pushed for removing Saddam Hussein from power, kicking off a war that led to one mistake after another. Ten years later, the war is estimated to have cost cost up to $6 trillion and resulted in the death of more than 100,000 Iraqis, 4,000 Americans and another 31,000 wounded. Meanwhile, Afghanistan saw a resurgence of the Taliban after Bush shifted resources to Iraq.

Botched the response to Hurricane Katrina

Bush appointed Michael Brown — a man whose only real qualifications were political connections and a sting at the International Arabian Horse Association — to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 2003 and he proceeded to undo everything the Clinton Administration had done to make FEMA functional, botching the response to 2004′s Hurricane Frances so badly as to prompt calls for his firing. But Bush kept Brown on board and, as a detailed timeline of the response to Hurricane Katrina demonstrates, neither man took the storm seriously until it was too late. Bush, who famously said “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job” midway through the crisis, thus presided over the most deaths due to a single natural disaster in the United States since 1900.

Defunded stem cell research

At the turn of the century there was perhaps no greater hope for finding cures to illnesses ranging from Alzheimer’s to diabetes than ongoing stem cell research. But months after taking office, Bush eliminated all federal funding for any new research involving stem cells, citing a religious objection to the use of embryos — even though the embryos in question were byproducts from couples undergoing in vitro fertilization and would have been destroyed by IVF clinics regardless. Twice more during his presidency, Bush vetoed legislation that would have restored funding.

Required Muslim men to register with the government

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Bush’s Attorney General, John Ashcroft, instituted an anti-terrorism program to register all male immigrants between 18 and 40 years old from 20 Arab and South Asian countries. Thousands of innocent men came forward to register, only to be rounded up for minor visa violations. Roughly 1,000 men and boys in the process of applying for permanent residence were arrested and confined in standing-room-only centers, enduring invasive strip searches and beatings by guards. Many were deported, while others were held for months after their immigration cases were resolved, without a shred of evidence they had any links to terrorism.

Reinstated the global gag rule

On Bush’s first day in office he reinstated a rule that prevented any non-profit doing work overseas from using any of their own, private money to fund family planning services. This so-called “Global Gag Rule” posed a serious threat to international maternal health, but it also cut off funding for HIV/AIDS initiatives, child health programs, and water and sanitation efforts.

Supported anti-gay discrimination

In 2004, President Bush endorsed the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA), which would have banned same-sex couples from marrying in the U.S. Constitution. The Massachusetts Supreme Court had just ruled in favor of marriage equality, and Bush hoped to block the ruling from taking effect because “a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization.” Though the FMA failed numerous times in Congress during Bush’s tenure, he exploited the issue of same-sex marriage to turn out conservative voters for the 2004 election. That year, 11 states added constitutional amendments outlawing same-sex marriage.

Further deregulated Wall Street

Under Bush, federal agencies eliminated regulations on predatory lending, capital requirements, and other Wall Street practices, allowing banks to engage in riskier and more destructive practices that contributed to the financial crisis that started on his watch. Bush’s Treasury Department also pushed for even further deregulation that would have given Wall Street more oversight over its own practices even after the housing collapse had begun.

Widened income inequality

The per-person benefits of Bush’s tax cuts accrued to the top one percent of Americans, as therate for capital gains dropped to 15 percent. The CBO found that federal income taxes dropped far more as a percentage of the one percent’s income than for any other group after 2000.

Undermined worker protections

Under Bush, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, whose mission is to protect safe working conditions, issued 86 percent fewer rules or regulations and pulled 22 items from its agenda of proposed safety and health rules. The office’s funding and staff were also consistently reduced. Meanwhile, funding for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency charged with helping workers who claim discrimination against their employers, was similarly low and staffing fell even as the number of complaints increased, leading to a rising backlog of cases.

Ideological court appointments

Bush filled the federal bench with ideologues, including two lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court. These conservatives believe that corporations should be able to buy and sell electionsruled against equal pay for equal work, and have sought to undermine a woman’s right to choose.

Presided over a dysfunctional executive branch

A 2008 analysis by the Center for Public Integrity documented more than 125 executive branch failures over Bush’s two terms. These included government breakdowns on “education, energy, the environment, justice and security, the military and veterans affairs, health care, transportation, financial management, consumer and worker safety,” and others. “I think we’ll look back on this period as one of the most destructive periods in American public life . . . both in terms of policy and process,” Thomas E. Mann, senior fellow at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution observed, noting “genuine distortion in the constitutional system, an exaggerated sense of presidential power and prerogative and acquiescence by a Republican Congress in the face of the first unified Republican government since Dwight Eisenhower.”

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Filed under George W. Bush

‘Anti-Business’ Obama Is Best President For Corporate Profits Since 1900

The anti-facts party keeps calling President Obama the “Anti-Business President”.  However, here are the facts:

Think Progress

Since he came into office, Republicans have consistently attacked President Obama for supposedly being anti-business. As ThinkProgress noted last week, the data shows that this charge is nonsense.

In fact, as the financial website Motley Fool noted today, President Obama is far and away the best president for corporate profits since 1900:

 Even if corporate profits under Obama are compared to the 2008 peak — in order to erase the effect of the financial crisis — “average annual corporate profit growth under President Obama is 6.8%,” or nearly three times as large as it was under President Reagan. Both Presidents Bush actually oversaw corporate profit declines during their terms. Meanwhile, real GDP growth per capita is far higher under Obama than it was under either Bush administration.

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Filed under U.S. Politics

5 Reasons Americans Are Right To Blame Bush For The Economy

I’m not sure why this hasn’t been addressed by conservative or progressive news media before now.  However, better late than never

Think Progress

Sixty-eight percent of Americans — including 49 percent of Republicans — say President George W. Bush is responsible for the state of today’s economy, a new Gallup poll finds.

Indeed, the country is still reeling from Bush’s disastrous economic stewardship. His irresponsible tax cuts and deregulatory policies have contributed significantly to the slow recovery and are partly responsible for the nation’s economic plight. Here are 5 reasons why:

1. Deregulated Wall Street: It was a great time to be a Wall Street executive during the Bush administration. Sweeping financial deregulation helped build the housing bubble and allowed financial institutions to pursue risky trades unchecked. In fact, Bush eliminated the rules that allowed Wall Street to cause the financial crash that plunged the nation into the Great Recession.

2. Cut Taxes For The Wealthy: The Bush tax cuts — over 50 percent of which benefited the richest 5 percent of American taxpayers — cost about $2.5 trillion over the decade after they were enacted. Ten years later, Bush’s tax cuts are still the main driving factor of the national debt:

3. Ran Up A Tab On Two Wars: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the country trillions of dollars. Combined with Bush’s tax cuts, war spending was amain factor in blowing up the deficit and spending the surplus accumulated under Clinton. Lawmakers now use the deficit as an excuse for inaction.

4. Left Homeowners In A Lurch: While Bush was happy to help out the banks in the wake of the housing crisis, he did little to assist struggling homeowners.Hope For Homeowners, Bush’s proposal to assist those struggling with their mortgages, was a colossal failure; in its first six months, it helped just one homeowner renegotiate his mortgage. Many mortgage holders — 15.7 million or, one in three — are still underwater today.

5. Weakened Workers: Bush weakened worker safety regulations and collective bargaining rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Department of Labor throughout his time in office. Today, corporations are back to making record profits, while workers’ incomes are falling.

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Nice Try, Dick!

Recently,  Dick Cheney demanded that the POTUS apologize for saying torture doesn’t work in the war on terror…

The Dish – Andrew Sullivan

The incompetent, panic-stricken war-criminal won’t give up trying to whitewash his crimes and military disasters by citing Obama. But this weekend was a new low. He cited the al-Awlaki killing as a sign that the Obama administration is no different when it comes to the war on terror than the Bush administration, and demanded an apology. Yes, an apology! He wants to elide surgical, intelligence-based drone attacks with his own torture program. Mercifully, McCain set him right:

Cheney still has no idea what the rule of law is, or what American values are. The idea that anyone owes this war criminal an apology is preposterous. The real apology, it seems to me, should come from Cheney himself, for both betraying core Western values, violating the rule of law, undermining his successor as commander-in-chief with constant self-serving jibes, attacks and condemnations for at least a year and a half after Obama took office, and losing two wars that Obama has largely won.

Bush knew better and with a modicum of dignity, let his successor govern without back-seat driving. And somewhere, deep down, I have to believe, Cheney must surely feel some kind of remorse – or he wouldn’t feel so desperate to justify his own membership of the ranks of war criminals through the ages. Why else try to appropriate the victories of Obama in a war the Bush administration hopelessly compromised and bungled? He senses history is not going to be kind. On that, at least, he’s right. I just want justice to stay one foot in front of history so this war criminal gets the punishment he deserves – while he is still alive.

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Filed under President Obama, U.S War on Terror

Think Progress

No wonder Roger Ailes is trying to change Fox News’ image from ultra conservative to moderate. Looks like Fox and Friends didn’t get the memo.

Think Progress

Despite the fact that the Obama administration succeeded in killing one of the most dangerous and wanted men on the planet, conservatives have been reluctant to give him credit.

Fox and Friends host Gretchen Carlson used the moment to both suggest that the president is too soft on terror and to make an implicit plug for the Bush administration’s use of torture:

CARLSON: Let me ask you this, would you be in the camp of having rather captured him…to try to get more information? But then I brought up the fact that under this administration it seems that we don’t prosecute or ask the same questions that we might have under the Bush administration, so would we get anything out of him anyway if we captured him?

Watch it, via Media Matters:

Think Progress, posted with vodpod

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Filed under Fox & Friends, Gretchen Carlson

Oh NOW You’re ‘Embarrassed’!

Vice President Dick Cheney speaks to a crowd o...

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When he was the Vice president, Dick Cheney famously said: “Deficits don’t matter…”

Now he says he’s embarrassed that S&P gave us an “AA” rating (down from a triple A.)

The Huffington Post

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was “embarrassed” when the U.S. credit rating was downgraded in August, and he hopes that the development will compel lawmakers to continue to work to address the deficit.

Cheney’s comments came in an extended interview with Rush Limbaugh, published in the right-wing radio host’s print newsletter “The Limbaugh Letter.”

“Now, these last few months have been pretty messy,” said Cheney. “I think like a lot of people I was embarrassed when they lowered our credit rating from AAA to AA. I literally felt embarrassed for my country.”

“But I also think that the fact that we’ve gotten to this point where we are faced with a crisis in terms of the debt problem, that that’s going to give those of us who want to address that issue and fix it the leverage that we haven’t had up until now, in terms of insisting on the kinds of policies that will be painful, but in the long run are necessary if we’re going to restore full faith and credit in the United States government.”

The Bush administration wasn’t always so concerned with making “painful” choices to address the deficit. As a recent chart put together by The New York Times showed, Bush-era war spending and tax cuts alone contributed more to “the swing from projected surpluses to deficits” than President Obama’s policies, taken out to 2017.

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Filed under U.S. Politics