Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sunday's NYTimes Editorial Columns by Rich & Dowd: Bush & Reagan Bucket List Republicans Living In the Past & In Denial

Frank Rich's Sunday Column is entitled: Ronald Reagan Is Still Dead.

Never mind that the G.O.P. is running on empty, with no ideas beyond the incessant repetition of Reagan’s name. ....the Clintons are hardly bigots, and the Democratic candidates all have a history of fighting strenuously for inclusiveness. By contrast, the Romney victory in Michigan is another reminder of how Republicans aren’t even playing in the same multiracial [or economic] American sandbox.

George W. Bush has led his party to the brink of disaster and cost it a generation of young Americans

[Romney's] retro persona exemplifies much of the present Republican dilemma. It’s not just that the old Reagan coalition of social, economic and foreign-policy conservatives has fractured. A more indelible problem for the Republicans in 2008 is that their candidates are utterly segregated from reality as it is lived by the overwhelming majority of their fellow Americans. The G.O.P. presidential field’s lack of demographic diversity by age, gender, ethnicity or even wardrobe, let alone race, is simply the leading indicator of how out of touch its brand has become.

Among [the republicans], Mike Huckabee alone made affinity for economically struggling Americans his calling card. Unfortunately, Huckanomics is more snake oil. All federal taxes would be replaced by a national sales tax that despite its Orwellian name (the Fair Tax) would shift more of the burden to middle- and low-income Americans.

Exit polls find that among voters in Republican primaries, as many as half have turned against the president. David Frum, the onetime Bush speechwriter, laments in his provocative new book “Comeback” that by 2008 his former boss “had led his party to the brink of disaster” and cost it “a generation of young Americans.”

MoDo Goes After Shrub and His Feeble Supplications to the Dictators of the Middle East in her column: Red, White and Blue Tag Sale

Hillary Clinton was right when she said it was “pathetic” that President Bush had to beg the Saudis to drop the price of oil.

In Abu Dhabi, he marveled at the royal family’s plans to build a city based entirely upon renewable energy. “Amazing, isn’t it?” W. said.

You know you’re in trouble when your Middle East oil pump is greener than you are.

One cascading rationale he offered for invading Iraq was the benign domino theory, that bringing democracy to Iraq would sway the autocrats in the region to be less repressive.

But when W. visited Saudi Arabia and Egypt last week, he did not have the whip hand. He could not demand anything of the autocrats in the way of more rights for women and dissidents, much less get the Saudis to help on oil production. He needs their help in corralling Iran, which has been puffed up by the occupation of Iraq.

Dowd also mentioned a sign I'd love to see "Hanging on the skyline of New York is a sign reading: “U.S.A. Now a Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Foreign Investors.”

Anyone who thinks a businessman with a 50s sensibility can solve the complex problems of our time is still living in Reagan-world. And we know that his policies are what set in motion the rich getting richer while widening the economic gap at a pace that Shrub Bush and Dick head-guy Cheney have only accelerated.

Bob Herbert's column reminds us of the hard economic facts via a recent Economomic Policy Institute report which states:

“The distribution of wages, income and wealth in the United States has become vastly more unequal over the last 30 years. In fact, this country has a more unequal distribution of income than any other advanced country.”

David Cay Johnston, took a look at income patterns in the U.S. over the past few decades in his new book, “Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You With the Bill).”

From 1980 to 2005 the national economy, adjusted for inflation, more than doubled. (Because of population growth, the actual increase per capita was about 66 percent.) But the average income for the vast majority of Americans actually declined during that period. The standard of living for the average family has improved not because incomes have grown, but because women have gone into the workplace in droves.

90 percent of the population missed out on the income gains during the sacredly touted 'economic expansion' of the Reagan-Bush Republican Eras

The peak income year for the bottom 90 percent of Americans was way back in 1973 — when the average income per taxpayer (adjusted for inflation) was $33,001. That is nearly $4,000 higher than the average in 2005.

It’s incredible but true: 90 percent of the population missed out on the income gains during that long period.

Mr. Johnston does not mince words: “The pattern here is clear. The rich are getting fabulously richer, the vast majority are somewhat worse off, and the bottom half — for all practical purposes, the poor — are being savaged by our current economic policies.”


For ordinary Americans, jobs are the be-all and end-all. And an America awash in new jobs will require a political environment that respects and rewards work and aggressively pursues creative policies designed to radically expand employment.

Kevin Phillips, a former supporter of Reagan and his policies, also radically changed his mind as he has documented the rich getting far richer much faster while working families have drastically lost ground under the republicans since 1980.

As Rich and others note, the Republican candidates are looking longingly into the past -- almost 30 years past! But the economic reality of these past 30 years will likely continue to show that invoking Reagan to democrats and working Americans is rocky territory fraught with danger and filled with fairy-tales and lies.

Even our British allies are giddy with anticipation of an election change: Just one more year! Good riddance to George W Bush.

Rich's column is already available here; Dowd's is here.

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