Historical amnesia is at once the most endearing and the most frustrating of American qualities. On the one hand, it means that—F. Scott Fitzgerald to the contrary—there really are second acts in American lives. People can move somewhere else, reinvent themselves, start again.
On the other hand, our inability to remember what our policy was last week—never mind last decade—drives outsiders crazy. We forget that we supported the dictator before we decided to destroy him. Then we can't understand why others, especially the dictator's subjects, don't always believe in the goodness of our intentions or the sincerity of our devotion to democracy.
Domestic policy is no different, as I learned from readers who wrote to denounce my column of two weeks ago. I had argued that Americans on both the left and the right have, for the last decade, consistently voted for high-spending members of Congress and consistently supported ever-higher levels of government intervention and regulation at all levels of public life. As a result, the federal government expanded under George W. Bush's administration at a rate that was, at least until President Barack Obama came along, totally unprecedented in U.S. history.
Alas, historical amnesia appears to have affected some readers, many of whom are under the impression that President Bush believed in small government and that recent Republican congressional leaders opposed federal spending.Here is a more accurate assessment: "President Bush increased government spending more than any of the six presidents preceding him, including LBJ." I didn't write that; the astute libertarian economist Veronique de Rugy did. She also points out that during his eight years in office, Bush's "anti-government" Republican administration increased the federal budget by an extraordinary 104 percent. By comparison, the increase under President Bill Clinton's watch was a relatively measly 11 percent (a rate, I might add, lower than Ronald Reagan's). In his last term in office, Bush increased discretionary spending—that means non-Medicare, non-Social Security—by 48.6 percent. In his final year in office, fiscal year 2009, he spent more than $32,000 per American, up from $17,216.68 in fiscal year 2001.
Hey Anne. Let's get some things straight. One, your average conservative/libertarian totally understood the fact that republicans were spending whores. It was why so many of us were so frustrated we abandoned republican candidates at the polls.
In fact, here's what I wrote about Bush the day after Obama was sworn in........
For the life of me, I never understood the absolute hatred liberals had for W.Second, conservative types like myself, really have no choice for government. We have liberals (republicans) and socialists (democrats) so the fact that we're bitching about Obama spending is not an endorsement of republican spending and I can give you at least 100 articles written by conservatives about the outrage over Ted Steven's funding of the Bridge to Nowhere.
By nearly every measure (except abortion), the guy governed like a bonafide liberal.
It's really what has fueled the Tea Party movement. See Tea Partiers are not racist but people who know that because of liberal republicans, Obama never would have come to power.
Third, the real affliction here is not of amnesia but of hypocrisy fully on display by liberals who now want to come up with the excuse "well Bush did it!, where was the outcry then".
Somehow I don't remember old Anne displaying the love for the liberal spending Bush when he was in office.