The man above may seem vaguely familiar to many of you. He appeared in New York this week to kick off a symposium sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute and launch the institute’s “4% Project.”
As our former president explains:
“This July the institute is publishing a book — gotta be a staggering thing for some of the cynics out there, I publish a book and the Bush Institute publishes a book, they didn’t think I could read, much less write a book — we’re publishing a book called “4 Percent Solution.”
The goal of the book and of the larger initiative, he tells us, is to advocate entitlement reform and tax and immigration policies that if implemented would create real annual growth in GDP of at least 4 percent. It’s an ambitious goal, he concedes, “but most of the experts believe it’s doable.”
Certainly, it’s been achieved in the not-too-distant past. As the chart below documents, we did manage to achieve real annual GDP growth of at least 4 percent for four consecutive years, from 1997-2000.
However, that goal was never achieved during the eight years in which President Bush held office, even though during most of that time the Republican Party controlled Congress. Indeed, by the time Bush left office after implementing many of the same policies that he now advocates through the Bush Institute, the economy was in a free fall the likes of which we had not seen in some 80 years.
Do the words “This sucker could go down” ring a bell?
It is true, of course, that President Bush is no longer in office. It is also true that he is not on the 2012 presidential ballot. In fact, members of his party seem to have tried to wipe their one-time champion from their collective memory, as if it were all just one bad dream.
But here’s the thing. As the video above demonstrates, the former president appears to have learned nothing from the traumatic collapse of the economy under his leadership. He continues to advocate the identical policies that he advocated before he took office and before the economic events documented in the chart above. It’s as if it never happened.
“If you raise taxes on the so-called rich, you’re really raising taxes on the job creators,” he says. “And if the goal is private sector growth, you gotta recognize that the best way to create that growth is to leave capital in the treasuries of the job creators….”
Far more importantly, while his party may try to forget Bush himself, it too continues to champion his economic approach. It too has learned absolutely nothing from the events of the past dozen years, and it has changed absolutely nothing.
The economic policies advocated by Mitt Romney in the campaign of 2012 are identical to those that were advocated — and later implemented — by George W. Bush in the 2000 campaign. (The foreign policy approach is identical as well, but that’s a topic for another day). Are the American people expected to simply forget that they have seen those policies implemented and put into action, and that they have seen the consequences?
– Jay Bookman