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Waiting for President Clueless to Leave

The BFFs share an evening of karaoke.

You would think that with the economy tanking during an election year in which the incumbent President has approval ratings at or below 30 percent, George Bush would be looking for ways to help the states stimulate economic growth and provide jobs for a suffering workforce. But instead Bush told the National Governor’s Conference that he doesn’t care about the devastating effects of his policies.

WASHINGTON — President Bush rebuffed appeals from the nation’s governors on Monday to increase spending on roads, bridges and other public works as a way to revive the economy.

Governors said Mr. Bush had told them at a White House meeting that he wanted to see the effects of his economic stimulus package before supporting new measures.

A bipartisan group of governors is pushing for major road and bridge projects as a way to create jobs and foster economic development. But the White House says the money could not be spent fast enough to be of much immediate help.

“There’s no short-term stimulus to the economy for some of these projects,” Dana Perino, the White House press secretary, said.

Moreover, Ms. Perino said, the president will not accept any bill that raises taxes to finance such projects. Governors would have more money available, she said, if Congress ended the wasteful earmarking of billions of dollars for specific projects.

There are no doubt wasteful earmarks in the federal budget, many of them requested by the Administration itself. But we’re spending $9-12 billion a month arming and then keeping apart both sides in a simmering Iraq civil war, we’re stretching the Army to the breaking point, and the public is asking why we can’t be spending that money here. Does the White House read any of the economic reports coming out of Washington? In the reports for the last week alone:

— Over the past 12 months, wholesale prices leaped 7.4 percent, driving retail price increases for energy, medicine and energy, with gasoline prices headed towards record levels.

— The consumer confidence index fell to its lowest level since 2003. The dollar is falling to record lows against the euro and other currencies.

— Home prices fell nearly 9 percent last quarter, to their lowest level in neary 20 years.

— Home foreclosures increased 57 percent in January compared to 2007.

As for waiting to see the effects of the stimulus package, there isn’t any serious economist who honestly believes the economy’s ills are only short lived. No one thinks the current stimulus package will prove sufficient. No one disagrees that massive investment in US infrastructure is urgently needed and no one seriously argues that the kinds of short- and long-run investment the country desperately needs in energy transformation will not require us to raise revenues through a dramatic shift in the tax base. No one, that is, except President Clueless.

Dan Froomkin sums it up for Mr. Clueless and Happy:

Does Bush not recognize what a mess he has created for his party? Is he unaware of the gulf between the "mentality of the American people" and his positions on the most important issues of the day? Americans overwhelmingly want to get out of Iraq and are overwhelmingly negative about his stewardship of the economy. Even on national security and the war on terror, traditionally winning issues for the GOP, Bush has driven the public into the arms of the Democrats.

Like every other problem facing the country — from ending our disastrous Iraq occupation, to providing health care to uninsured children, to enforcing our health, safety and environmental laws, to reclaiming our Justice Department, to starting an intelligent conversation about global climate change and energy, we have to wait until the incumbent and his mindless apologists have left before we can even begin to address these issues. How pathetic. And how embarrassing that John McCain thinks he can run on that record.

And I second Digby’s and Attaturk’s take on the debate. Tim Russert managed to circulate a second-hand comment from someone completely unassociated with the Obama campaign to the effect that Jews would be appalled if they knew the anti-semitic comments made (or trip to Libya made) by someone else whose endorsement Obama never sought and whose views he denounces. It was a third hand smear, the essence of unethical mudslinging, perpertrated by NBC’s senior political correspondent. On top of the ever clueless questions by Brian Williams, it was the worst, most unprofessional performance by a news team in "moderating" a debate this season. Shameless. [Complete transcript here]

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley