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June 07, 2005

Like Reagan or Nixon?

Jonthan Rauch has a brilliant piece in The Atlantic Monthly on President Bush's economic policies.
"If you are worried about the federal deficit (and you should be), ask yourself which would do more to improve the country's finances -- President Bush's latest budget or a pastrami sandwich. The administration made much of the fact that the budget Bush proposed in February was his tightest yet and was projected to reduce the deficit by half, to $207 billion, in 2010. What the administration did not make much of -- you had to look deep in the fine print -- is that the deficit would actually decline a bit more between now and 2010 if the Bush plan were not enacted and existing laws were just left alone.

"In other words, go with the pastrami. It is fiscally sounder, plus it's good with mustard and a dill pickle."
Though Bush likes to think he'll be remembered like Ronald Reagan, Rauch thinks he's on the path to be compared to Richard Nixon. The biggest difference is that "Reagan changed course. When the deficit became alarming, he acceded (reluctantly, to be sure) to tax increases and defense cuts. He stopped making a bad situation worse..." In contrast, Nixon left "a permanent entitlement crisis, a twenty-year budget crisis, high inflation, and a reputation for opportunism."


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