So, the first half (or more) of the speech is Bush taking credit for foreign gains that he had nothing to do with (Lebanon, Egypt, AIDS) and refusing to explain the same old cliches about wiretapping and 9/11.
So, let’s look at the domestic agenda that Bush has to offer.
Bush: Our economy is healthy, and vigorous, and growing faster than other major industrialized nations. In the last two-and-a-half years, America has created 4.6 million new jobs – more than Japan and the European Union combined. Even in the face of higher energy prices and natural disasters, the American people have turned in an economic performance that is the envy of the world.
Hmm. Just two weeks ago, the Department of Labor was less optimistic, noting that the consumer price index rose 3.4 per cent in 2005, while wages fell 0.5 percent. Unemployment is up to 4.9 per cent, and only 37% of the American public approves of Bush’s handling of the economy.
Bush:Keeping America competitive requires us to be good stewards of tax dollars. Every year of my presidency, we have reduced the growth of non-security discretionary spending – and last year you passed bills that cut this spending.
Like those federal student aid programs you denied cutting? That $12 billion cut really ought to boost our economic condition in this country. Hmm. And a good steward, sensible with spending? Not according to your friends at the Heritage Foundation, who argue that 2000-2003 were the biggest spending spree in the history of the United States. Jonah Goldberg, of the National Review, says: “But one thing is clear: Bush’s brand of conservatism is awfully expensive.”
Bush: We will strengthen Health Savings Accounts – by making sure individuals and small business employees can buy insurance with the same advantages that people working for big businesses now get.
Yeah, those will work. Paul Krugman dealt with this proposal in this morning’s Times. What are HSAs? Primarily, another hidden tax cut for the wealthy. Krugman writes, “Their latest big idea is health savings accounts, which are supposed to induce “cost sharing” – meaning individuals will rely less on insurance, pay a larger share of their medical costs out of pocket and make their own decisions about care…So cost-sharing, like H.M.O.’s, is a detour from real health care reform. Eventually, we’ll have to accept the fact that there’s no magic in the private sector, and that health care – including the decision about what treatment is provided – is a public responsibility.”