Time Counts the Bush Economic Errors

Justin Fox at Time hits the right notes in a piece on “Bush’s Economic Mistakes”.

Fox lists eight big ones, but he does well to note that not all of the problems on Bush’s watch were his fault and that presidents aren’t all-powerful economic string-pullers like many think they are (and that Clinton’s deregulatory pushes were responsible, too), caveats I’ve seen missed elsewhere.

But Fox is right to point out the significant errors of the administration, many of which contributed to the severity of the current mess, including soaring budget deficits cause by tax cuts for the wealthy and the war in Iraq, and generally denying reality. He’s dead-on here on regulation:

The really big regulatory changes being pointed to now as possible culprits for the crisis date back to Bush’s predecessors: Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, even Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. So the popular Democratic refrain that “Bush-era deregulation” is to blame for our troubles is a little hard to square with the evidence. What is true is that most Bush-era financial regulators were less than enthusiastic about the very act of regulating, and that Bush’s “ownership society” push glossed over a lot of potential dangers. Bush didn’t cause the financial regulatory breakdown, but he didn’t jump in to fix it either.

This is a good, quick primer on the failures of the Bush economic program.

As a side note, what’s up with Time’s links below each paragraph? On the page on Bush’s regulatory mistakes, it links to “pictures of the top 10 scared traders.

The next one, about how Bush erred in pushing consumerism (by the way, the weakest point on the list), encourages us to “See pictures of expensive things that money can buy.”

Alrighty, then.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.