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Conservatives blast Bush at libertarian event

Old 03-08-06, 10:43 PM
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Conservatives blast Bush at libertarian event

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...030701403.html

At Conservative Forum on Bush, Everybody's a Critic

By Dana Milbank
Wednesday, March 8, 2006; Page A02

If the ancient political wisdom is correct that a charge unanswered is a charge agreed to, the Bush White House pleaded guilty yesterday at the Cato Institute to some extraordinary allegations.

"We did ask a few members of the Bush economic team to come," explained David Boaz, the think tank's executive vice president, as he moderated a discussion between two prominent conservatives about President Bush. "We didn't get that."

Now why would the administration pass up such an invitation?

Well, it could have been because of the first speaker, former Reagan aide Bruce Bartlett. Author of the new book "Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy," Bartlett called the administration "unconscionable," "irresponsible," "vindictive" and "inept."

It might also have had something to do with speaker No. 2, conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan. Author of the forthcoming "The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It; How to Get It Back," Sullivan called Bush "reckless" and "a socialist," and accused him of betraying "almost every principle conservatism has ever stood for."

Nor was moderator Boaz a voice of moderation. He blamed Bush for "a 48 percent increase in spending in just six years," a "federalization of public schools" and "the biggest entitlement since LBJ."

True, the small-government libertarians represented by Cato have always been the odd men out of the Bush coalition. But the standing-room-only forum yesterday, where just a single questioner offered even a tepid defense of the president, underscored some deep disillusionment among conservatives over Bush's big-spending answer to Medicare and Hurricane Katrina, his vast claims of executive power, and his handling of postwar Iraq.

Bartlett, who lost his job at the free-market National Center for Policy Analysis because of his book, said that if conservatives were honest, more would join his complaint. "They're reticent to address the issues that I've raised for fear that they might have to agree with them," he told the group. "And a lot of Washington think tanks and groups of that sort, they know that this White House is very vindictive."

Waiting for the talk to start, some in the audience expressed their ambivalence.

"It's gonna hit the [bestseller] lists, I'm sure," said Cato's legal expert, Roger Pilon.

"Typical Bruce," replied John Taylor of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy.

Admitted Pilon: "He's got a lot of material to work with."

Bartlett certainly thought so. He began by predicting a big tax increase "to finance the inevitable growth of government that is in the pipeline that President Bush is largely responsible for." He also said many fellow conservatives don't know about the "quite dreadful" traits of the administration, such as the absence of "anybody who does any serious analysis" on policy issues.

Boaz assured the audience that he told the White House that "if there's a rebuttal to what Bruce has said, please come and provide it."

Instead, Sullivan was on hand to second the critique. "This is a big-government agenda," he said. "It is fueled by a new ideology, the ideology of Christian fundamentalism." The bearded pundit offered his own indictment of Bush: "complete contempt" for democratic processes, torture of detainees, ignoring habeas corpus and a "vast expansion of the federal government." The notion, he said, that the "Thatcher-Reagan legacy that many of us grew up to love and support would end this way is an astonishing paradox and a great tragedy."

The question period gave the two a chance to come up with new insults.

"If Bush were running today against Bill Clinton, I'd vote for Clinton," Bartlett served.

"You have to understand the people in this administration have no principles," Sullivan volleyed. "Any principles that get in the way of the electoral map have to be dispensed with."

Boaz renewed his plea. "Any Bush economists hiding in the audience?"

There was, in fact, one Bush Treasury official on the attendance roster, but he did not surface. The only man who came close to defending Bush, environmental conservative Fred Singer, said he was "willing to overlook" the faults because of the president's Supreme Court nominations. Even Richard Walker, representing the think tank that fired Bartlett, declined to argue. "I agree with most of it," he said later.

Unchallenged, the Bartlett-Sullivan tag team continued. "The entire intellectual game has been given away by the Republican president," said Sullivan. "He's a socialist in so many respects, a Christian socialist."

Bartlett argued that Richard Nixon "is the model for everything Bush is doing."

Sullivan said Karl Rove's political strategy is "pathetic."

Bartlett said that "the administration lies about budget numbers."

"He is not a responsible human being; he is a phenomenally reckless human being," Sullivan proclaimed. "There is a level of recklessness involved that is beyond any ideology."

"Gosh," Boaz interjected. "I wish we had a senior White House aide up here."
Wow, that's pretty strong stuff. Yet I think it's deserved. This administration, it seems to me, is a disgrace to real conservatives. Maybe the spirit of Goldwater, or at least of that pale imitation, Reagan, still has some life.

I rarely get involved in the liberal/conservative, Democratic/Republican partisanship discussions on this forum but I think conservatives blasting Bush to this degree deserves some exposure.
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Old 03-08-06, 11:38 PM
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George has a lot of his father in him, and given a Republican Senate and House, I think George HW Bush would have been the same.

It definately makes it tough. Conservatives want to slow/cut spending yet what are the alternatives? Vote for a liberal? You could start with the classicman mantra that you need to soak the rich, but I don't see any evidence that doing so actually increases tax revenue. I think you could leave the tax policy the way it is and just work on spending, but again, who could one vote for? Not a Libertarian, because although they may want to do just that, they can't get elected in a Presidential election.
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Old 03-09-06, 03:15 AM
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Well, the consensus is becoming rather consistent, even over political lines: The Bush Administration Sucks...even for Republicans. And that's saying something. At least I can say I left a while ago. I mean, how many times do you have to get hit over the head before you recognize who's hitting you over the head?
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Old 03-09-06, 06:41 AM
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Well, I like Bush more now - since the libertarians are opposed to him.

If radicals like the libertarians are opposed to him - he can't be doing everything wrong.
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Old 03-09-06, 07:41 AM
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The vast majority of conservatives voted a second term for Bush, which means they are glad that he did those things during his first term.

The conservatives who agree with the points against Bush in this article are very small in number.

It doesn't matter what people say. What matters is how people vote. And based on that, the vast majority of conservatives are very happy with Bush's big government policies.
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Old 03-09-06, 08:07 AM
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You could start with the classicman mantra that you need to soak the rich, but I don't see any evidence that doing so actually increases tax revenue.
1. I've never said soak the rich. I've said raise their taxes.

2. If you don't believe retaining the same tax code and increasing taxes on the top 1% will increase revenue, then you don't believe 2+2=4; therefore, it's little sense arguing you.

In addition - you don't believe the CBO either.
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Old 03-09-06, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
1. I've never said soak the rich. I've said raise their taxes.

2. If you don't believe retaining the same tax code and increasing taxes on the top 1% will increase revenue, then you don't believe 2+2=4; therefore, it's little sense arguing you.

In addition - you don't believe the CBO either.



I sure as hell don't usually believe or trust the CBO, and it has absolutely nothing to do with partisanship or politics either.
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Old 03-09-06, 08:26 AM
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1. I've never said soak the rich. I've said raise their taxes.
By how much/to what level?
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Old 03-09-06, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Pharoh


I sure as hell don't usually believe or trust the CBO, and it has absolutely nothing to do with partisanship or politics either.
Of course you don't. You put your trust in OMB - as long as there's a Republican in the White House.
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Old 03-09-06, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by grundle
The vast majority of conservatives voted a second term for Bush, which means they are glad that he did those things during his first term.

The conservatives who agree with the points against Bush in this article are very small in number.

It doesn't matter what people say. What matters is how people vote. And based on that, the vast majority of conservatives are very happy with Bush's big government policies.


You mean his big government policies like:
  • Allowing private and faith-based organisation to carry some of the welfare burden
  • Introducing the idea of private Social Security accounts for the first time as a matter of policy
  • Placement of far more emphasis on state testing in education
  • Medicare reforms including the creation of private health savings accounts & means testing for benefits
  • Expansion of free trade, despite the protectionist policies of some of our allies and trade partners
  • Tax policies that have spurred growth and jump started the financial markets


I am just curious. This is not to say that many mistakes and missteps haven't been made. The practice has not always followed the rhetoric, and there most certainly have been contradictory actions undertaken by this administration. However, his 'conservative' detractors usually fail to point out the positives he has enacted, or refuse to include some other pertinent facts when discussing his negatives.

Many agenda items will not be enacted while George W Bush is in office, may not even be attempted by his Republican successor, but he is fundamentally changing the conservative concept of government, while at the same time introducing a great many traditional conservative principles. Time will tell.
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Old 03-09-06, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
Of course you don't. You put your trust in OMB - as long as there's a Republican in the White House.


No, it has more to do with knowing how they do what they do. It is not political in nature. But that is better for some other thread.
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Old 03-09-06, 08:57 AM
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I agree 100% with the article and that's why I couldn't bring myself to vote for Bush in 04 after I'd seen his socialist streak the previous 4 years.

The only positive difference he has made is with the Supreme Court, and he almost fucked that up as well.

I have no respect for the man. I don't even believe his faith is true; it's expedient.


BTW, I don't give other republicans a pass either. I voted libertarian in 04 except in 4 races - where either there was no libertarian running or where the Republican vote was going to be close and I needed to keep a Dem from winning.
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Old 03-09-06, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
George has a lot of his father in him, and given a Republican Senate and House, I think George HW Bush would have been the same.

It definately makes it tough. Conservatives want to slow/cut spending yet what are the alternatives? Vote for a liberal?
There you go, create a false choice!

How about pick someone better in the primary?

There are plenty of people, if you can move past the "liberal"/"conservative" labels who would (now) appreciate a less interventionist policy in Iraq. I'm not sure you can predict how liberalism/conservatism would determine that. So shocker, electing someone who was plastered with "liberal" could actually work regarding foreign policy.

And who is the liberal in mind? Do you have amnesia that Billy Boy was very corporate friendly? What was it about Gore that was going to be markedly more liberal?
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Old 03-09-06, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
2. If you don't believe retaining the same tax code and increasing taxes on the top 1% will increase revenue, then you don't believe 2+2=4; therefore, it's little sense arguing you.
For the love of God man! Take an economics class, will you?!

You decrease taxes for the rich (who generate most of the wealth in this capitalistic nation of ours), that extra money gets reinvested into capital; that capital produces even MORE revenue that's taxed; this is an extreme simplification and there's much more to it; but your rationalization is kindergarten level at best. In economics, 2+2 != 4; 2+2 = 2 + reroute the money thru investments, add interest, subtract inflation, adjust for overhead, etc = more than 4.

PLEASE! are there any people on here who actually understand that economics is more complicated than kindergarten math, or are the only things spouted feel-good tripe?
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Old 03-09-06, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by grundle
The vast majority of conservatives voted a second term for Bush, which means they are glad that he did those things during his first term.
Really? Is that REALLY what it means?

Couldn't it mean that between Bush and Kerry, Bush was the lesser of two stinkweeds?

Originally Posted by grundle
It doesn't matter what people say. What matters is how people vote. And based on that, the vast majority of conservatives are very happy with Bush's big government policies.
Socially conservative voters, sure. But financially conservative voters had no choice.
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Old 03-09-06, 09:33 AM
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For the love of God man! Take an economics class, will you?!

You decrease taxes for the rich (who generate most of the wealth in this capitalistic nation of ours), that extra money gets reinvested into capital.
For god's sake, man - there's reason why economics is called a social science.

As far as investment - there's precious little evidence to support that claim. There's a little more evidence to indicate that capital gain tax reductions does spur investment.
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Old 03-09-06, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
For god's sake, man - there's reason why economics is called a social science.

As far as investment - there's precious little evidence to support that claim. There's a little more evidence to indicate that capital gain tax reductions does spur investment.
and all evidence to date points out that high taxes on the rich tend to hurt economies *cough*NewYork,California,Massachusetts*cough*

I think in Maine or Maryland they figured this out; oddly enough, the Dems in that state are going for a flat tax and it's the Repubs who are kicking and screaming

1. Social Science in the respect of how people buy, sell, and act financially; it's not social science in the way that capital earns interest.

2. I may be wrong about this but tax revenues are up since the Bush tax cuts have been passed and the capital gains tax reduced; these breaks allowed people who were otherwise on the fence to go ahead and re-invest capital or do other things with their money they otherwise wouldn't have done for fear of high taxes (there's your social science aspect).

Note: if I am wrong here, someone please show me some charts detailing tax revenues vs. time; both what the tax committees predicted and what was actual. I've often heard the tax comittees models for prediction are rather off the mark a good bit of the time),
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Old 03-09-06, 09:54 AM
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So c-man are you going to answer the question of how much you want to raise the taxes of the "rich" or are you afraid the "soaking" accusation will be proven true
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Old 03-09-06, 09:55 AM
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'Laws' of economics apply only in perfect economic models.

Those models don't exist in the real world Obvious example: 'law' of supply & demand.
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Old 03-09-06, 10:01 AM
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Correction: Laws of economics apply perfectly in perfect economic models; in the real world, they offer predictions from which models can be drawn. There are many schools of thought in economics; someday on these boards I'd love to here a supply-side economist have it out with a demand-side economist. My money's on supply-side tho
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Old 03-09-06, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by sracer
Really? Is that REALLY what it means?

Couldn't it mean that between Bush and Kerry, Bush was the lesser of two stinkweeds?
Correct. For at least two elections in a row the American Voter has had a pretty dismal choice on Presidential election day. My first vote for Bush was anti-Gore. I went third party (Libertarian) just because I feel that it is my civic responsibility to vote but I could not, in good conscience, vote for either of the two gentlemen who had a chance to win.

In theory, Bushdog is correct. We should pick better candidates in the primaries. The reality isn't going to make that option very feasible.
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Old 03-09-06, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Pharoh
You mean his big government policies like:
  • Allowing private and faith-based organisation to carry some of the welfare burden
  • Introducing the idea of private Social Security accounts for the first time as a matter of policy
  • Placement of far more emphasis on state testing in education
  • Medicare reforms including the creation of private health savings accounts & means testing for benefits
  • Expansion of free trade, despite the protectionist policies of some of our allies and trade partners
  • Tax policies that have spurred growth and jump started the financial markets
You make a point that is partially correct. These are somewhat "conservative" but I think you may be overselling. For example, the proposed social security reform was a pathetic half-measure (actually, more like a tenth-measure) that could never have worked and its failure would have set social security privatization back 20 years. IMO, the only workable privatization scheme would have to be of a gradual phaseout to total privatization or, more preferably, abolishment with a strict timetable. Likewise, the "free trade" policies leave a lot to be desired. And in education, more federal money is being thrown at it than ever.

Anyway, all this is so overwhelmed by the spending spree in Iraq and domestically that, in net value, it's pretty worthless.
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Old 03-09-06, 10:12 AM
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We should pick better candidates in primaries, but too many higher ups think they know who is better for us than we do and support who they think will WIN versus who would be best for the country.
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Old 03-09-06, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by movielib
You make a point that is partially correct. These are somewhat "conservative" but I think you may be overselling. For example, the proposed social security reform was a pathetic half-measure (actually, more like a tenth-measure) that could never have worked and its failure would have set social security privatization back 20 years. IMO, the only workable privatization scheme would have to be of a gradual phaseout to total privatization or, more preferably, abolishment with a strict timetable. Likewise, the "free trade" policies leave a lot to be desired. And in education, more federal money is being thrown at it than ever.

Anyway, all this is so overwhelmed by the spending spree in Iraq and domestically that, in net value, it's pretty worthless.

Me, oversell? Never.




I figured I would be the only one, or one of the very few, who would present a differing view so I chose to concentrate on that. My larger point though was merely that it is not as easy, nor is it fair, to simply look at the spending and come to an absolute conclusion. Many economic conservative and smaller government initiatives are going to take time and money to implement. Reforms will not be easy or cheap. At least this president has began the conversation on many of them.

I also don't think I oversold his initiatives as much as I undersold how bad their implementation was. I believe the mistakes, and there have been numerous ones, have come more from the practical pragmatic side as opposed to the ideological policy side. I agree, for example, that the Social Security proposal would not have worked ideally and he missed an opportunity. The same with the free-trade issue. The expansion of free-trade agreements, (Australia & Central America come to mind), has definitely been a positive, but the attempt to appease segments of the electorate by the continuation of agriculture subsidies and steel tariffs most certainly were negative. Yet even these failures go into my larger points. Administration opponents often talk of farm subsidies but they don't often also mention the refusal of the EU to lessen theirs.

There is not much I can say about the spending on Iraq, as my position on that endeavour is known.
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Old 03-09-06, 04:05 PM
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How conservatives defend this fool will never cease to amaze me. I guess they do it for fear of a Democrat in there. I long for the days of a split in the executive and legislative branches.
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