There is probably no dumber thing that Republicans could do than position themselves as defenders of George W. Bush going into the next election, which is what both Republican congressional campaign committee heads conveniently decided to do. Not only did Bush’s unpopularity and incompetence create the political conditions necessary to make Barack Obama and the Democratic supermajorities electable in the first place. A defense of Bush severely undercuts the conservative critique of the Obama administration’s economic policies.
Bush continued on the Clinton-era Community Reinvestment Act path of extending credit to the uncreditworthy. He advocated a loose monetary policy. While Obama’s deficits and spending have been far worse, Republicans cannot be taken seriously as a party of limited government if they endorse the spending and deficits of the Bush years, right down to the biggest new entitlement since the Great Society. It was Bush who signed into law the Obama-approved $700 billion Wall Street bailout, setting the stage for the bailouts and federalization that was to follow.
Obama is worse, but part of the same big government continuum as Bush. If Republicans are smart, they will disown everything about the Bush economic legacy except for the tax cuts. They should hope that John Cornyn and Pete Sessions’s comments are indeed just a case of Texas neighborliness rather than a broader trend.
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