What Will Mr. Bush Do Now?

There are 18 months until we have a Democrat for a President, and George Bush is pretty much a lame duck. His approval ratings are at historic lows, and his most important policies, those concerning Iraq, have all failed miserably, needlessly spending American and Iraqi lives. And now, this week, Mr. Bush’™s immigration [...]

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

There are 18 months until we have a Democrat for a President, and George Bush is pretty much a lame duck. His approval ratings are at historic lows, and his most important policies, those concerning Iraq, have all failed miserably, needlessly spending American and Iraqi lives. And now, this week, Mr. Bush’™s immigration bill goes down the tubes. Oh, woe is he! What’™s he to do now? Ben Feller of the AP attempts to find an answer, and finds optimism at the White House.

Bush has about 18 months left. His opponents in Congress are emboldened. His public approval rating is dreary.

What he has left is the loudest microphone in town, veto authority and an agenda that remains relevant to the daily lives of millions of people.

Expect Bush to spend his time pushing energy legislation to promote alternative fuels, an education law that stands firm on standardized testing and health coverage for the uninsured.

‘œI think there are a lot of opportunities left this year, and next year, to get some important things done,’ said the president’™s counselor, Ed Gillespie. Both he and Sullivan and are among the new additions to Bush’™s staff, key advisers who will be counted on to infuse ideas and energy where the administration might otherwise be slumping toward the finish.

Bush will play some defense too, with warnings to veto any of the fundamental spending bills that go beyond his comfort zone, or come anywhere close to a tax increase.

The White House sees fiscal discipline as a winning issue, and a sound one, even if it’™s not headline material.

Let’™s see, Bush is going to try to salvage his legacy by first pushing alternative fuels, a topic that for forty years has been a progressive issue. Next he’™s going to trumpet a success with the No Child Left Behind authorization even though the bill will be severely watered down before it gets to his desk. Then he’™s promising health coverage for the uninsured, again a progressive issue. Perhaps Mr. Bush understands how much his conservative policies have doomed his legacy that he’™s adopting progressive issues to shore up his image for history?

It’™s that last bit that’™s really stupid. Mr. Bush is going to get tough on spending. Yeah, right. This is the guy who led our country to record deficits, and even now, when he claims to have turned a fiscal conservative page, he’™s just nominated as White House Budget Director Jim Nussle, the same guy responsible for all that deficit spending in the first years of the Bush Administration.

Nussle, an eight-term congressman who left the House last year to make an unsuccessful run for governor, was named Budget Committee Chairman in 2001, at the dawn of the Bush administration. During three of his six years at the helm, Congress did not pass a budget blueprint. Meanwhile, big spending increases and huge tax cuts sent the budget spinning from a $128 billion surplus in fiscal 2001 to a $248 billion deficit in 2006, with the red ink hitting an all-time high of $413 billion in 2004.

. . .

According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, the number of earmarks in House spending bills exploded under Republican control, from 3,000 in 1996 to 15,000 in 2005. Infuriated by what they say is GOP hypocrisy on the issue, Democrats have been digging through Nussle’™s old press releases for earmarks he sponsored.

They found plenty. As budget chief, Nussle secured tens of millions of dollars for Iowa roads, bridges and buses, as well as $500,000 for an addition and exhibit at the Grout Museum, a history and science museum in northeastern Iowa.

In 2005, Nussle tucked language into an emergency war spending bill that channeled $12 million to the Rock Island Arsenal for ‘œindustrial mobilization capacity.’ Inconvenient, Democrats say, considering that Bush lashed out at Democrats for adding ‘œpork projects’ to last month’™s emergency Iraq spending bill.

Mr. Bush is going to have a very long 18 months. Perhaps Cheney can help him find an undisclosed location or something.

What’™s really going on here is that the new White House advisors, including Ed Gillespie, have decided to do the same old, same old. They think saying it is so makes it so. So they are crowing about what the President will work on, they will encourage the President to continue to call insurgents in Iraq ‘œAl Qaeda,’ though it ain’™t so, and continue to rail against supposed Democrat spending. Facts be damned. But saying so does not make it so. The power of words don’™t have the power to create a new reality, and the Republicans, so intimately tied to the Radical Right Wing Christian Clerics, should know that fact ‘” the only one who creates with mere words is God himself.

Saturday, June 30th, 2007 by Richard Blair |

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