T Nation

For all the Pro-Bush People

Something I ran across for the pro-Bush people

Those Who Voted for Bush May Be In for a Big Surprise

Concerns closer to his heart could trump all that talk about values.

Jonathan Chait

November 5, 2004

Dear rural/exurban Christian conservative voters: Congratulations on your election victory. By going to the polls in unprecedented numbers Tuesday, you overwhelmed an enormous Democratic turnout and returned President Bush to office, along with a number of very conservative senators. Now Bush is preparing to repay your efforts by moving immediately on your highest priorities: a flat tax and privatizing Social Security.

Oh, wait. You didn’t particularly hanker for those things, did you? The election is so far in the past now that it has receded into a hazy memory. But as I recall, you voted for Bush because of his position on one issue ? he opposes gay marriage ? and on the general principle that he is a godly man who shares your values. Now Bush has decided, conveniently enough, that those values are identical to those of his wealthy financiers. (Go to any meeting of the Club for Growth, a group of affluent, libertarian-leaning Bush backers who mostly live in Washington and New York City. I’m sure you’ll find them, like victorious Okla-homophobe Sen. Tom Coburn, deeply concerned about rampant high school lesbianism in the Sooner State.)

Bush is claiming the election as a mandate. There are, however, a couple of ways to interpret that. The conventional meaning is that a candidate gained office by promising to do a certain thing. Ronald Reagan in 1980 had a mandate to cut taxes and bolster the military. Bill Clinton in 1992 had a mandate to raise taxes on the rich, expand healthcare, reform welfare. Those were the central promises of the two campaigns.

Bush uses the word somewhat differently. As he told reporters Thursday, “I earned capital in the campaign ? political capital ? and now I intend to spend it.”

What that means is that all you small-town folk voted for him not to pursue an agenda but just because he embodies family values. That gives him political power that he can use for purposes utterly unrelated to the source of his popularity. Sure, Bush mentioned some of these purposes in the campaign. But the references tended to be perfunctory and in code. Start with taxes.

Though Bush talks about tax “simplification,” he doesn’t seriously believe it. He has littered the tax code with complicated new provisions, including a ludicrous corporate tax bill stuffed with special provisions for sausage producers, foreign dog-race gamblers and the like. Simplification really means making the tax code flatter ? i.e. less progressive. He doesn’t care about making taxes simpler; he just wants rich people to pay a smaller share of them. There’s little evidence to suggest small-town Ohioans flocked to the polls so they could have a portion of George Soros’ tax burden shifted onto themselves.

On Social Security, Bush was just as evasive. Here, again, the tiny minority of people who closely follow this understood his code words. He wants to divert Social Security taxes into private accounts. Because those taxes pay for the benefits of current retirees, his plan would require cutting benefits or driving the national debt even higher.

Bush, of course, went to great pains to distance himself from these unpleasant facts. In 2001, he appointed a commission that proposed three plans to partly privatize Social Security, but he declined to embrace the panel’s findings. A few weeks before the election, a New York Times Magazine story reported that Bush told GOP donors he planned to push privatization after the election. John Kerry’s campaign circulated a nonpartisan study showing what the benefit cuts in one of the commission’s plans would entail. Bush’s spokesman dismissed the charge that he favored privatization or benefit-cutting as a “false, baseless attack.”

Here’s what Bush said Thursday: “I had asked [Daniel Patrick Moynihan], prior to his passing, to chair a committee of notable Americans to come up with some ideas on Social Security, and they did so. And it’s a good place for members of Congress to start.”

Got that? Last week, if you had described Bush as advocating the commission’s plans, he would have denounced you for promoting a hysterical lie. Now they are at the top of the list of things he’s saying he was elected specifically to enact.

Meanwhile, what about opposing gay marriage, the one mandate Bush might legitimately claim? Earlier this year, Bush barely lifted a finger in support of a constitutional amendment banning it. (Compare this to the furious arm-twisting he performs to get moderates to back his tax cuts.) If he has a mandate to do anything, it’s to bring up the amendment again. However, he’s said nothing about doing so, and nobody expects him to.

No surprise there ? it’s hardly in the Republican Party’s interest. If gay marriage is banned everywhere, what’s going to bring all those heartland conservatives to the polls next time?

And yes, before you all say it, it was probably written by someone who didn’t vote for Bush, like 48% of the voters in America. Which, by the way, is not a landslide victory no matter what the Republican spin machine says. It says that almost half of the voting public does not like Bush. However, it does say one thing: politicians will say anything to be (re-)elected. I personally didn’t trust either candidate for that reason.

Thanks for the article.

I also want to give a shout out and thanks to 42% of those earning under $30,000 a year and still voted for Bush.
And the 44% of latinos that voted for Bush. Oh, and the 36% of union members who voted for Bush.

Wait, what do all these people have in common? They voted against thier best interest.

What, precisely, does the author – a frequent contributor to The New Republic, FYI – find particularly surprising that people voted on issues most important to them, rather than agreeing with each and every issue in the platform?

This is the essence of a republic – you don’t get to vote up or down on each issue.

BTW, I realize the author is trying to simplify things, and there are word constraints, and I don’t know what the editors cut, but, that said, Bush isn’t going to try to privatize social security or divert all payroll taxes to private accounts.

Younger people will be allowed to divert some of their payroll taxes to private accounts, which will lessen the obligations of the government to them later. Likely, the retirement age for those younger workers will also be raised.

Current and soon-to-be retirees will not face any lowering of benefits.

The “cost” is a cash-flow issue, not an actual cost – the government will need to replace the current payroll taxes that will come out, and that is the number you will see cited as the “cost.” However, future obligations to the younger workers will be diminished, so the net-net will be the effect of taking money out of one pocket and putting it into another.

One more little note on the DPM Commission “Plan” – it was actually 3 plans, with three different cost estimates and ideas about implementation. The article treats them as one, which only adds to the confusion.

Also note that the plan for partial SS privatization was hardly secret. Bush talked about it in 2000, and Kerry cited the “cost” (see above) of $2 trillion in the third Presidential debate. The various plans and ideas have been debated in the op-eds and on the internet during the entirety of Bush’s first term. This is a well known idea of the President’s, at least for anyone following the issue.

For those that myopically think ‘moral values’ means ‘hugging the evangelical Christian bank on abortion and homosexual marriage’:

http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/351/13/1314/T1

Have a look at 1996 - the year Clinton was re-elected. Moral values ranked number one (40%) of the issues.

In 1992 - when you combine Family Values and Abortion - you get 27%, still higher than the figure this year.

So, by the hysterical standards being made about ‘Moral Values’ in this recent election by the manic Left, the statistics suggest we have become less Bible-thumpin’ in terms of national priorities.

Strangely, and listen up you dorks that think I’m a hater – irony alert – I’ll be ecstatic if a flat and or greatly simplified tax system gets put in place. Well, as long as the tax rate is low anyway!

How liberal and biased of me…

Also, I’ll also be ecstatic if Bush realizes that he doesn’t have to spend like a mofo to look after the issues he is chasing. It would be great if he could move the budget towards more of a balanced state.

Yes, I know, how liberal and biased of me…

[quote]vroom wrote:
Strangely, and listen up you dorks that think I’m a hater – irony alert – I’ll be ecstatic if a flat and or greatly simplified tax system gets put in place. Well, as long as the tax rate is low anyway!

How liberal and biased of me…

Also, I’ll also be ecstatic if Bush realizes that he doesn’t have to spend like a mofo to look after the issues he is chasing. It would be great if he could move the budget towards more of a balanced state.

Yes, I know, how liberal and biased of me…[/quote]

Why does this concern you in Canada? Just curious.

Doogie,

If the US goes that direction, the odds are greatly increased that Canada will too.

Also, even if that wasn’t so, I’d still be saying it because it’s what I judge to be appropriate.

Hooray for New Republic readers!

I can’t agree more with Jonathan. Karl Rove did a great job of sending letters to believers in Arkansas and West Virginia stating that Democrats would ban the Bible. Their whole campaign strategy in the heartland was a great idea and it worked. Moblize churches and religious groups, distribute DVDs about prayer in the White House, etc.

Of course, on the national front, this was about terrorism and social security, but in any small town, if there were party promoters handing out stuff, it was a list of positions on abortion, gay marriage, etc.

At my college, back home at my parents church, anywhere I saw Bush promoters, these were there top issues.

Of course, its a great sales pitch for office, because now hes there, he wont pursue any of this. THe court won’t touch Roe v Wade. (a good guess would be that court might pursue things like eminent domain?) There is no way in hell the ammendment would pass, and he is definitely not going to put the time and capital into pursuing it.

And with all this talk about social security and his great plans, why hasn’t he explained any of it?

In his first press conference in what seems like fucking forever, he dodged it entirely cracking jokes and not allowing follow up questions. That means after being asked a question, he can dodge it, and the reporter cant ask him to clarify.

His father gave 87 press conferences, he has given 14, the lowest since Woodrow Wilson, back before the media age.

White House correspondents are so afraid they might scare him away that now we’re lucky if they even muster up to ask decent questions.

[quote]TravisCS84 wrote:
And with all this talk about social security and his great plans, why hasn’t he explained any of it?

In his first press conference in what seems like fucking forever, he dodged it entirely cracking jokes and not allowing follow up questions. That means after being asked a question, he can dodge it, and the reporter cant ask him to clarify.

His father gave 87 press conferences, he has given 14, the lowest since Woodrow Wilson, back before the media age.

White House correspondents are so afraid they might scare him away that now we’re lucky if they even muster up to ask decent questions. [/quote]

THe choice in the election was pretty clear, for anyone paying attention to this issue. Kerry said he wasn’t going to do anything in terms of social security reform, and Bush said he was going to reform, with one part being partial privatization of accounts for young workers.

Anyone deciding had a pretty clear choice between simply keeping the status quo and hoping for the best or attempting to reform a program chugging toward the precipice of insolvency.

If you wanted to be really informed, you could look up the Moniyhan reports and see the options Bush wanted to use as his models.

Chait’s a good writer, but the only people surprised by this are people who weren’t paying attention.

[quote]TravisCS84 wrote:
And with all this talk about social security and his great plans, why hasn’t he explained any of it?

In his first press conference in what seems like fucking forever, he dodged it entirely cracking jokes and not allowing follow up questions. That means after being asked a question, he can dodge it, and the reporter cant ask him to clarify.

His father gave 87 press conferences, he has given 14, the lowest since Woodrow Wilson, back before the media age.

White House correspondents are so afraid they might scare him away that now we’re lucky if they even muster up to ask decent questions. [/quote]

14? That?s it? Only 14? Really? You are not making this up, or getting this from some crazy, make up some crap and let the fools actually believe it, website are you?

You know, the ones that said that Bush was told by god that we needed to attack Iraq? Or that statement that Bush had a low IQ, even though he scored higher then Kerry on his military exam, which can be used to create an IQ correlation.

I think I remember 14 just this year. Then again they could simply create a whole host of rules that define what a press conference is. But then again, wouldn?t you rather he worked, instead of talked to the cameras?

As far as the Social Security, definitely privatize it. Over 15% of our income is sent to the government, and Bush want to let us decide how we invest 2%. That still leaves 13% going to the government.

Oh wait, that will keep money from going to the government wont it? Which is a funny argument from the people who keep talking about putting Social Security into a lock box. If that lock box was actually created, the government wouldn?t be dipping into it, and we would have a bigger problem with money then the little 2%.

I realize you prefer the current Ponzi scheme, but why? It does not work, and nobody can explain why it would.

You can make more money in bonds, and as far as stocks, people will end up retiring millionaires if they get into stocks. Sure you cannot believe that, ignoring the thousands of millionaires who did it, simply by investing their 401k.

If you are against privatizing, then you had better have a better solution, because if not, Social Security will fail. The government will not be able to save it, and it will tear this country apart.

Now if social security is privatized, then eventually the government will not be paying out any money to retirees who chose to incest on their own, but still be taking in all this money. Do you understand this?

Also if you don’t want to invest on your own, I believe you can still go for the old system. And the fear I have is when those who stuck to the old system see their $400 checks, and start to complain about the $10,000 a month the privatized people get. They will be pissed, and forget it was their own ignorance, asking the government to tax those “lucky rich bastards”.

Personally, I don’t really give a fuck what anyone thinks about why myself or anyone else voted for Bush. RLTW

rangertab75

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
Kerry said he wasn’t going to do anything in terms of social security reform, and Bush said he was going to reform, with one part being partial privatization of accounts for young workers.

Anyone deciding had a pretty clear choice between simply keeping the status quo and hoping for the best or attempting to reform a program chugging toward the precipice of insolvency.[/quote]

I wouldn’t say that he didn’t address this issue. He just wasn’t very clear on his stance due to the fact that he busy being constantly on the defensive against all of the character assassination attacks that was detracting from the real issues at hand. Bush has never really outlined how he was going to accomplish any of these things without hurting the current Social Security recipients. If he has a clear outline to present to the American people, he better do it fast or the support that he did gain will dwindle.

You’d be surprised by how many people weren’t paying attention. They were busy worrying about his morals and values aligning with theirs to actually pay attention to what he is doing. This is evident with the amount of conservative christians that came out in masses to support him. Many of them had no clue about any other issues other than gay marriages and abortion. There is an interesting Washington Post article about this that I will try to dig up.

[quote]rangertab75 wrote:
Personally, I don’t really give a fuck what anyone thinks about why myself or anyone else voted for Bush. RLTW

rangertab75[/quote]

There you have it ladies and gentlemen, the “Compassionate Conservative”. Compassionate only if you agree with them and don’t question anything they do. If you don’t, then the venom comes spewing.

Mage,

I think it is terrible that this guy keeps so secretive from the media. He wonders why people make the characteriztions about him that they do.

Why doesn’t he allow follow-ups? Why doesn’t he want to explain himself to the American people? No other modern day president has been as secretive as him.

Boston,

You keep talking about how we’re all surprised and you and your buddies are’nt.

Who ever said I was surprised? Bush was going to use the morality issue to get votes, then run policy more focused on corporate interests. This seems pretty standard Republican to me.

[quote]TravisCS84 wrote:
Boston,

You keep talking about how we’re all surprised and you and your buddies are’nt.

Who ever said I was surprised? Bush was going to use the morality issue to get votes, then run policy more focused on corporate interests. This seems pretty standard Republican to me.[/quote]

That was the point of the article.

Travis,

I’m very pleased for our country that Bush won.

I’m also sorry that you are in so much pain.

It’s tough.

But, Kerry and the crowd were a total joke.

Most people didn’t but it.

JeffR