WASHINGTON – Evidently, nobody is paying attention, because through all of Jeb Bush’s bluster about Republicans not being what they supposedly used to be, he’s thrown his weight against the right’s nemesis. You see, dear reader, by the time Mr. Bush gets done, it’s all about Pres. Obama for him, too. Mind you, I hold no water for the President, but in separating the gnat crap out of the current political pepper, let’s at least get the facts straight, shall we?
Today’s Republicans have as much trouble with their identity as Democrats, with the wacky Tea Party wing giving them a semblance of spine. That’s a problem nationally, however, with Jeb Bush laying it out in a Bloomberg news article on Monday. One of his biggest issues with Mitt Romney is on immigration and Hispanics, but it’s the lack of bipartisan compromise that has him opining about Ronald Reagan and his father.
“Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my dad — they would have a hard time if you define the Republican party — and I don’t — as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement, doesn’t allow for finding some common ground,” Bush said, adding that he views the hyper-partisan moment as “temporary.”
“Back to my dad’s time and Ronald Reagan’s time – they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan suport,” he said. Reagan “would be criticized for doing the things that he did.”
Grover Norquist is not amused. From Sahil Kapur:
“There’s a guy who watched his father throw away his presidency on a 2:1 [ratio of spending cuts to tax increases] promise,” Norquist said of Bush. “And he thinks he’s sophisticated by saying that he’d take a 10:1 promise. He doesn’t understand — he’s just agreed to walk down the same alley his dad did with the same gang. And he thinks he’s smart. You walk down that alley, you don’t come out. You certainly don’t come out with 2:1 or 10:1.”
I’m still amazed Republicans continue to ignore Ronald Reagan’s collapse on conservative economics, moving to large tax increases, at the same time Iran-Contra unfolded under his nose. It’s an an impeachable offense if he were a Democrat.
However, what’s astounding is who Jeb Bush blames for the lack of “common ground.” You guessed it, Pres. Obama:
“His first year could have been a year of enormous accomplishment had he focused on things where there was more common ground,” he said, arguing that Obama had made a “purely political calculation” to run a sharply partisan administration.
In Pres. Obama’s first year in office he was blessed with a Democratic Congress. What Obama did was ignore his own base and the polling that the public option was backed by the people, instead choosing deals with private insurance and big Pharma, selling them out. Yes, he chose to get health care passed, but that wasn’t a bad decision, it’s just the outcome was a compromise with himself and Democratic ideals. If the Supreme Court comes down against ACA, what’s passed will certainly serve as prologue.
Any Republican saying Pres. Obama didn’t attempt “common ground” in his first year is playing the press and ignoring the actual behavior of Republicans. Mr. Bush proves that point by lauding Ronald Reagan, who might have done a deal or two with Democrats, but who was an overtly partisan Republican, which showed in his union busting, de-regulating, budget blowing policies that exploded the national debt and got the U.S. into crisis mode economically that inevitably led to William Jefferson Clinton bailing the Republicans out.
It’s a tough job, but Democrats seem to always have to do it.
Pres. Obama was handed a miserable economic reality and the problem with his solution was that it was mostly Republican lite; a little stimulus, instead of what was required, backed up by buying into deficit delirium on the way to giving lip service to austerity. Pres. Obama was more than happy to side with Wall Street, big banks and the moneyed interests, while hedging on housing, which is exactly what Mitt Romney would have done as well.
So, Jeb Bush really has no reason to be so cranky. He’s just pissed that Pres. Obama’s Blue Dog Republicanism is not rightward thinking enough, while Mitt Romney’s idea of immigration reform is just one step away from Patrick J. Buchanan.
As for Grover Norquist, he’s a scourge, someone who would have helped primary Ronald Reagan who raised taxes 11 times during his presidency. Quoting former Reagan economic adviser Bruce Bartlett, this time last year:
[…] Over the next few years, Reagan came under the influence of Rep. Jack Kemp (R-NY), Wall Street Journal editorial writer Jude Wanniski, economist Arthur Laffer and other proponents of “supply-side economics.” While skeptical at first, in 1979 Reagan endorsed the Kemp-Roth tax bill, which would have cut statutory income tax rates by about 30 percent across the board. After winning the White House in 1980, Reagan sent the Kemp-Roth proposal to Congress and it was enacted in August 1981.
Almost immediately upon enactment of the 1981 tax cut, Reagan came under enormous pressure to do something about the federal budget deficit. While his preferred approach was to cut spending as much as necessary, it was not politically possible to… His aides began pressuring him to support a tax increase. Conservative activists were appalled that Reagan would even consider such a thing, but he eventually endorsed the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982. According to a Treasury Department analysis, it raised taxes by close to one percent of GDP, equivalent to $150 billion per year today, and was probably the largest peacetime tax increase in American history.
This was just the first of many tax increases that President Reagan endorsed and signed into law. There were 11 major tax increases during his administration. And this doesn’t count the fact that Reagan intentionally delayed the start of tax indexing, which was part of the 1981 tax bill, until 1985 so as to capture a lot of anticipated bracket-creep for the Treasury. In fact, it was the failure of inflation to come in as fast as White House economists expected that created much of the deficit problem. I estimate that lower than expected inflation and the loss of bracket creep was responsible for about half the budget deficit in 1981 and 1982. It’s also worth noting that the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which was revenue-neutral in the long run, was a fairly substantial revenue-raiser its first year, increasing taxes by $18.6 billion or 0.41 percent of GDP.…
Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.