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Good Governance Is More Than CYA…


[Do you live in the San Diego or DC area?  If so, please read to the bottom of this post for some action you can take this weekend to help a Democrat win a seat in Congress…] 

The Bush Administration has 36 events planned for discussion of the American economy today — an economy that many analysts are saying is cooling, which isn’t exactly a big hoo-rah for the Bush Administration.  So, I’m guessing today’s events will be all about the tap dance, and not so much on the honest facts that most Americans are dealing with these days:  the high cost of filling up their gas tank; the increased cost of utility bills; paying a lot more for groceries and goods as the cost of transportation gets passed on to consumers; the increases in medical and pharmaceutical expenses – especially if you are a senior citizen and/or on a fixed income; the rapidly increasing cost of a college education; and on and on. 

Here are a few items that I bet they won’t be discussing at the White House today.  Let’s call this part of the Bush Legacy thus far:

Health care, gas, housing and college costs have risen since President Bush took office as the purchasing power of paychecks drop.

Median family income has dropped every year of the Bush Administration. [Census, BLS]

The typical family is paying $1,200 more a year for health insurance. [KFF, 2005]

College tuition has gone up about 40 percent in real terms. [College Board, 2005]

Gas prices have doubled to nearly $3.00 a gallon. [Energy Information Administration, 5/06]

Housing is the least affordable it has been in 14 years. [U.S. Census]

Real wages have been flat since 2001, while the cost of families’ big-ticket items (medical care, housing, food, cars and household operations) rose 11 percent. [Center for American Progress, 5/06]

Young families face huge challenges – college debt, jobs without good benefits, and rising interest rates.

The typical student graduates from college with $17,500 in debt. [College Board, 9/05]

Median household debt has climbed 34 percent to $55,300 in 2004. [Federal Reserve Board, 2/06]

The Federal Reserve interest rate has climbed to the highest level in five years – pinching the pocketbooks of families with credit card debt, car loans, and adjustable rate mortgages.

The number of people in employer-sponsored retirement plans dropped from 50 percent to 48 percent from 2001 to 2004, and about 3.7 million employees have lost employer-provided health insurance since 2000. [Congressional Research Service, 5/06; CPS, 8/05]

Republicans’ record budget deficits are out of control and driving our country deeper into debt to foreign investors and governments, as more American jobs are being shipped overseas.

Republicans have turned President Clinton’s projected 10-year $5.6 billion surplus into a $3.2 trillion deficit.

America has accumulated more debt to foreigners, nearly $1.1 trillion, than this country had accumulated in its first 224 years. [Treasury Department, 12/05]

Interest payments are growing faster than all other items in the Bush Administration budget. America’s total debt has climbed by nearly 50 percent to nearly $9 trillion.

Republicans voted to protect more than $5 billion in oil industry giveaways.

In most recent Republican tax bill, most middle-class families will receive less than $30 from any tax relief, while the average tax cut for millionaires is about $43,000.

Under President Clinton, all families prospered; they saw their income grow, opportunities for good-paying jobs increase, and a better standard of living:

In the Clinton years, nearly 23 million new jobs were created (or 237,000 per month).

In the Clinton years, nearly 23 million new jobs were created (or 237,000 per month).

Only 42,000 jobs per month have been created and 2.9 million manufacturing jobs lost under the Bush Administration

In the Clinton years, America had five years of real wage growth, and middle-income families saw their incomes grow 10 percent in real terms.

The income for middle-class families has dropped $1,669 or nearly 4 percent under the Bush Administration.

I got these numbers from Nancy Pelosi’s office.  And this handy chart, which really puts the whole Bush economy into stark perspective, doesn’t it?


The Democratic leadership in both houses of Congress has been trying to push more news coverage on real people’s problems in our country — because, at the heart of it all, that ought to matter to elected officials.  You know, real people, real problems, practical solutions…really governing for a change. 

The corporate media hasn’t been giving it much play, but I think it’s important because, well, we’re all real people trying to make ends meet and…damn it…our concerns ought to be their concerns as well.  (Okay, sure, this may be a quaint little notion, given that I don’t have my own PAC and bribery fundraising arm and all, but call me old-fashioned for thinking that the little guy counts for a whole lot, too.)

Good governance is more than just CYA — someone ought to let George Bush in on that little secret.

And no amount of public CYA news events can mask the fact that real people are having trouble making ends meet these days.  George Bush may not be seeing the effects of the economic squeeze among his "Ranger" buddies, but I’m seeing it every day in my neighborhood and around town, and I’m sure a lot of you are seeing (and feeling) it as well.  Everything from rising interest rates on home mortgages to the high cost of gas and other energy needs to trying to decide between feeding your family and getting needed medication — and a lot of this increase in costs, especially in oil prices, comes from the continued instability in the Middle East.  (Hello, Iraq…)

The choices that the Bush Administration and the Rubber Stamp Republican Congress make have consequences.  And a lot of average Americans are paying the price for those bad decisions.

When you add in the balooning deficit, the increased borrowing from foreign lenders, the weakening dollar, and the overall feeling of unease with the direction the US has been taking the past few years, it doesn’t add up to the rosy scenario that the Bush White House keeps trying to pimp out — and no amount of mood lighting and beer goggles is going to make this mess look better.

Oh, and one more little item that you can add to the "more for my peeps and cronies" list: the NYTimes reports that the new Treasury Secretary nominee Henry Paulson could save himself a whopping $48 million in capital gains taxes on investments because of a little-known provision dealing with conflict-of-interest sales when taking a government job.  I can see the rationale for such a provision, but wouldn’t you think the Administration would disclose this sort of thing up front instead of trying to keep it under the rug?

What can you do?  Well, one thing is to put boots on the ground to get Democrats elected to Congress so we can get some oversight for a change — something we sure as hell haven’t been getting from the CYA gang in the Rubber Stamp Republican Congress, which has been putting Republican party interests ahead of the nation. 

The special election in the San Diego, California area will be held this coming Tuesday — and Francine Busby needs your help.  If you live in the area and can volunteer this weekend, contact "Volunteer AT busbyforcongress DOT org" or call 760-479-0114.  They need folks to man the phones, walk area in the district and distribute flyers and door hangers, and all sorts of other things, including giving rides to people on Tuesday to go and vote.  Also, the DCCC is looking for DC-area based volunteers to make calls to San Diego Democrats on Monday evening and all day Tuesday.  To sign up for Monday and/or Tuesday, contact our Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer, Kevin Lewis at "lewis AT dccc DOT org" or at 202-741-1881.

Every little bit helps, folks, and Busby is very close to pulling off a miracle in a district that was solid red only a few short months ago.  I don’t ask for this sort of thing from our readers all that often, but if you can help in any way, please do — this could put us one member closer to a Democratic Majority in the House, and it would be one hell of an energizer for the whole party if we pull this off.  Let’s get to work…

UPDATE:  DavidNYC at SwingState has more details on Get Out The Vote work in CA-50.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com