The unbounded joy from the Democratic side of the political universe these days is tempered by economic realities of a faltering nation.
America is in trouble — deep trouble — and we are not going to get out of it by simply accepting everything that Barack Obama does as gospel and blaming everything that’s happened on George W. Bush.
Yes, Bush is a bad President, perhaps one of the worst in history, but the many problems that face this nation have been decades in the making and much of the relief that we see as Bush’s administration comes to an end follows what many — myself included — felt at what we hoped was the end of a national nightmare when the Clintons packed up to leave the White House.
The greatest damage that Bush may have done to this nation is the resurrection of Bill and Hillary Clinton. The man who turned the White House into his personal pleasure palace, who used the power of the federal government to destroy his enemies and who decried the "politics of personal destruction" while honing it into an art form is redeemed in the eyes of those weary of the extremes of the Bush Administration.
Like so many, I’m happy to see Bush go. But unlike those with short memories, I haven’t forgotten the shame Bill Clinton brought upon the Presidency by his behavior or his own lack of honesty with the American people. Let’s not forget that Clinton lost his law license for lying under oath.
We hear a lot of talk about how Bill Clinton left us a nation free of debt. That’s not quite what happened. The deficit was reduced during his Presidency but it came under pressure from a Republican Congress — the one put into power by voters after Clinton stormed into office in 1992 with grandiose big-spending ideas like National Health Care.
Clinton, with the approval of a Democratic Congress, raised taxes in 1993. He also presented budgets with big increases in federal spending. The deficit soared to $200 billion in two years.
Voters rejected his policies overwhelmingly in the 1994 mid-term elections and sent the Democratic leadership of Congress packing.
With a Republican-controlled Congress serving as watchdog, Clinton moderated his policies and went from liberal to centrist. But many of the spending cuts that occurred in his Presidency came at the insistence of a Republican Congress that controlled the federal budget during the final six years of his Presidency.
Technically, the federal budget was balanced by 1998 — four years after Republicans assumed control of Congress. During those four years, the GOP congress cut $600 billion from the budgets Clinton submitted. But even that so-called "balanced budget" is subject to debate since Uncle Sam keeps two sets of books.
Two years later, George W. Bush came into office and inherited a Republican Congress that forgot all about fiscal restraint. They helped Bush build the largest federal bureaucracy in history in a pork-barrel spending spree that remained unabated until voters tossed the GOP out of power in Congress in 2006.
So the Republicans share a good deal of the blame for putting the country back into debt afteR helping balance the books 10 years ago. But many Democrats also voted to give Bush the authority to invade Iraq and put this country into a seemingly-endless, budget-draining, war. Many Democrats voted to establish the huge Department of Homeland Security that has become the federal government’s black hole for spending. Many Democrats voted to take away the rights of Americans with the USA Patriot Act. Many Democrats enjoyed the pork barrel largess that bloated the federal budget and the deficit.
Barack Obama and his team of recycled team of Washington insiders will not balance the budget. They will increase the federal deficit with massive spending programs that they hope will jump start a faltering economy.
It may work. It may not. This is not the post-depression era of Franklin D. Roosevelt. It is not the Civil War era of Abraham Lincoln. This is modern day America where Wall Street hiccups and the world convulses. Change means taking bold, new innovative steps to fight the problem. Change does not come by repackaging those who helped contribute to the past excesses that helped create today’s problems.
George W. Bush is a bad President. So was Bill Clinton. And George H.W. Bush. And Ronald Reagan. And Jimmy Carter. And so on.
Each, along with those who served in in their respective administrations, and those in Congress during their terms, are co-conspirators in building an American house of cards that is toppling around us.
And now, many of those same people are back in positions of power in a new government that is supposed to change things and save us from the past mistakes they helped create.