[Homestead] Bush second term

Gene GeRue genegerue at ruralize.com
Sat Sep 4 12:37:56 EDT 2004

I had just finished reading Brooks when you sent this. I agree that he is 
wonderfully optimistic.

For the first time, I have printed out and am reading the 94-page 
Republican Party Platform, using a lot of red comment ink as I go. In 
addition to the expected gushing about the wonderfulness of Bush and his 
cohorts, there are actually some ideas and figures that caused me pause. I 
will report more later. One reason I am subjecting myself to this is I want 
to see how much of what is in the official platform actually happens.

At 12:08 PM 9/4/2004 -0700, you wrote:
>Here's a real optimist.  A 180 degree reversal is possible for someone who 
>cannot go for a third term and who has been harboring thoughts about 
>leaving a legacy of some permanent value beneficial to the average citizen.
>Well, not 180 degrees, maybe about 100 degree change in direction.
>There will certainly be no Bush-directed change in environmental 
>destruction, none in a rational energy policy, and nothing that would 
>reduce healthcare costs by half in a Universal National Healthcare system 
>as proven in every other major country.
>And getting through any of his reversed objectives through a 
>GOP-controlled Congress would be like pushing a grand piano through a 
>giant vat of glue.
>The New York Times
>September 4, 2004
>Bush's Second Term
>White House aides like to say that George W. Bush is a transformational 
>president. That's an exaggeration, but if he's elected to a second term 
>and acts on the words he uttered on Thursday night, he just might be.
>He's already gone a long way to transform the Republican Party. This was a 
>party united by the idea that government is the problem, that it should be 
>radically cut back. On Thursday night, Bush talked about government as a 
>positive tool. "Government must take your side," he exclaimed.
>He went on to propose a sprawling domestic agenda. Many of his proposals 
>are small or medium-sized, and media rebutters have complained that not 
>all of them are new (which is a ridiculous way to measure a policy idea). 
>But cumulatively, they really do amount to something.
>Bush proposes to build community health centers, expand AmeriCorps, 
>increase the funds for Pell Grants, create job retraining accounts, offer 
>tax credits for hybrid cars, help lower-income families get health savings 
>accounts, dedicate $40 billion to wetlands preservation, and on and on and on.
>This is an activist posture. As Karen Hughes said on PBS on Thursday 
>evening, "This is not the grinchy old 'Let's abolish the Department of 
>Education or shut down the government' conservatism of the past."
>The biggest proposals, which could really make history, were only hinted 
>at. But Bush understands the crucial reform challenge: "Many of our most 
>fundamental systems - the tax code, health coverage, pension plans, worker 
>training - were created for a world of yesterday, not tomorrow. We will 
>transform these systems."
>In his speech, he redefined compassionate conservatism. The faith-based 
>initiatives are now only a part of a much bolder whole. Bush declared that 
>government should move energetically to help people get skills and to open 
>opportunities. "Government should help people improve their lives, not run 
>their lives," he said. That is the essence of the party's new governing 
>The Bush agenda has been greeted with a wave of skepticism from my buddies 
>in the press corps. How's he going to pay for all this? Why didn't he do 
>more of this in his first term? Why was he so vague about the big things? 
>Won't he sacrifice it all on the altar of tax cuts?
>But, of course, he's not going to tell us at the peak of the campaign 
>season about painful spending decisions. He's not going to specify who is 
>going to get gored by tax simplification. No competent candidate has ever 
>done that, and none ever will. That doesn't make the policy ideas bogus.
>The fact is, it would be bizarre if a re-elected Bush didn't have a 
>magnified domestic agenda. Periods of war are usually periods of domestic 
>reform because war changes the scale of people's thinking. It injects a 
>sense of urgency. You can see this evolution in the president's own thinking.
>When he ran in 2000, it sometimes seemed that he was running for governor 
>in chief. But now he is thinking like a president, and his domestic 
>notions are growing to match his foreign policy ones.
>Obviously, the administration will have to make some tough decisions. 
>First, it will figure out which of the many proposals it wants to do 
>first. The obvious thing is to do tax simplification first because fixing 
>up the tax code lets you eliminate distortions in health competition, 
>saving patterns and a bunch of other areas.
>Second, the White House will probably have to choose between reforming 
>entitlements and making the tax cuts permanent because there isn't enough 
>money to do both. This is an easy call. Sacrifice the tax cuts. If 
>entitlement programs aren't reformed, we'll be looking at a lifetime of 
>tax increases. Modernizing the welfare state is a much bigger deal than 
>some three- or four-point cut in the top marginal tax rate.
>It should be said that I do have a voice in my head that says this is all 
>a mirage - that all the reform ideas will be tossed aside for the sake of 
>favors for the K Street crowd. But one can sense a tide in the affairs of 
>Republicans who embrace this limited but energetic government philosophy 
>are in the ascendant (look at the convention speakers). Many Republicans 
>and Democrats are coalescing around these ideas (in truth, several of 
>Bush's ideas are lifted from centrist Democrats). Besides, Bush may flesh 
>out and promote this big agenda, if only to spite his media critics.
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