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IRREGULAR TIMESMeasuring Bush By the Reagan Standard

One of the basic principles that they teach in the disciplines of social science is that it's unfair and unrealistic to judge people and organizations by standards other than those that they themselves ascribe to. It doesn't make much sense to judge the cannibalism of Stone Age Britons according to the moral codes of Queen Victoria, for example. The two social systems originated in different worlds.

Well, we know for sure that George W. Bush and his Republican advisors are living in a different world than most Americans. They're extremely wealthy and powerful, and so it makes sense to them when Bush calls a $350 BILLION dollar giveaway to other super rich people "itty bitty". Billions of dollars to Republican leaders is spare change. To most Americans, who are struggling to work for a living, such extravagant welfare programs for the wealthy are not "itty bitty". But, like I said, the Republicans are living in a different world. How dare we judge them?

Let's evaluate the Republicans by their own standards, then. George W. Bush and his corporate class supporters like to talk about the standards of Ronald Reagan, whose praises they sing at any given fundraising occasion.

As I remember it, Ronald Reagan set out a very clear standard for evaluating the success of an American president. He asked the simple question, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

This is the Republican standard of success, so let's be fair and use that as our criterion for judging the worthiness of the rule of George W. Bush. So, fellow Americans, are you better off than you were four years ago?

Chances are that the answer is no. When Bill Clinton left office, there was a huge budget surplus, the economy was booming, and more Americans were able to find the work they wanted at the wage that they wanted than ever before.

What's happened since?

Stock prices are down, if you've got enough money to own significant numbers of stocks.

Wages and salaries are not increasing for anyone but CEOs. The minimum wage, measured in real worth, is the lowest it's been in two generations.

The unemployment rate is the highest it's been in nine years, during the recession that Ronald Reagan and George Bush the First gave to Bill Clinton to take care of.

The bad economy has got state governments scrambling to provide basic services like Medicaid and education to their citizens. Because George W. Bush is spending so much money on the military and on gigantic tax giveaways to the super rich, there's practically nothing left to help the states with their fiscal emergencies. So, the states are doing one of two things: cutting basic services, or raising taxes. Yes, the effect of George W. Bush's huge giveaways to the wealthy and military contractors is the raising of ordinary Americans' taxes on the state and local level. Under the Bush economy, ordinary poor and middle-class Americans carry more and more of the load, while the multi-millionaires carry less and less.

Just as ordinary Americans are making less money, they're paying a bigger share of taxes, thanks to George W. Bush.

Mr. Bush has a simple plan to fix the economic problems that his Administration has created: more billion dollar giveaways to rich people. That's it. That's the only economic plan that George W. Bush has. He has no plan to fix the skyrocketing federal budget deficits. His advisors say that deficits are a good thing.

While Bush fiddles with giveaways to the rich, there are lots of nasty indirect impacts of the poor economy of the last couple years. For example, as a result of the problems with the real economy, both violent and non-violent crime is increasing under the watch of George W. Bush. That's a real security issue.

The Republicans will tell you that it's all Bill Clinton's fault, conveniently ignoring the fact that during the eight years of the Clinton Presidency, the economy kept on getting better and better, the national budget was brought into balance for the first time in nearly forever, surpluses were blooming, deficits were being paid off, unemployment was practically non-existent.

For the last three years, Republicans have not only occupied the White House, they've also controlled the Congress. Conservative judges also have a slim majority on the Supreme Court. For years, George W. Bush has had the power of the Presidency while his political party dominates the entire federal government. For good or for bad, George W. Bush has to take responsibility for the state of the economy.

There are happy exceptions, of course, and for many rich people, things have never been better. Most Americans, however, are definitely not better off than they were four years ago. Most Americans are struggling just to keep what they've got.

The Reagan standard speaks clearly in its judgment of the second Bush Presidency. America is not better off than it was four years ago. Even by Republican standards, the clear moral imperative is to vote against George W. Bush in 2004.

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