Just browsing through Paul Begala’s conservative smear tirade, “It’s Still the Economy, Stupid,” is a truly painful experience. The book is widely revered in the usual Democratic circles as the definitive, “must have” guide for exploiting the supposedly flawed economic policies of the Bush administration. It is premised on the shallow notion that all elections are ultimately centered on the state of the economy. Protecting Americans from suicidal terrorists is apparently a petty side issue.
As you probably guessed, Begala thinks Bush is clueless on economic matters and that Democrats need only focus on this to win the 2004 election. Begala’s strategy is apparently irresistible to the Democrats, as they have shamelessly blamed the slumping, post-September 11 wartime economy on President Bush. In doing so, they have scored enormous political points, thanks in part to the help of their willing accomplices in the national media.
There is just one small problem, one Democrats never remotely imagined – the economy is doing well again! In fact, since the Bush tax cuts took full effect last July, the economy has skyrocketed at a historic, almost unprecedented, growth rate of 8.2 percent. This is indeed the Democrats’ worst nightmare. With such astonishingly positive economic news, the “economy issue” – previously the central component of the Democratic attack play book – has been quickly moved “off the table.” For the sake of all respectable liberals, we can only hope that Begala’s hackneyed Democratic mantra will be launched into political irrelevancy just as quickly.
Begala may be a master political “spin room” operative, but he, like his Democratic cohorts, is the one who is really economically brain dead. Bush is now the third U.S. president to reap the benefits of tax cuts. Much to the dismay of the modern Democratic Party, Bush’s tax cuts are almost identical to those of the liberal and conservative icons John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan (Kennedy’s tax cut was actually much larger than either Reagan’s or Bush’s). And, like those of his distinguished predecessors, Bush’s tax cuts have been remarkably successful. Not only is the economy rebounding again, but the country is beginning to recover the jobs – 200,000 in the third quarter alone – lost after September 11 and during the resulting war on terrorism.
I cautiously wondered if the Democrats would actually acknowledge the effectiveness of Bush’s economic policies. After all, they had been proven spectacularly and unequivocally wrong. Would we now hear an apology, a recanting of their errors? Don’t hold your breath. They are now engaged in yet another series of embarrassingly convoluted rationalizations, such as “It’s too soon to tell!” or “It will never last!” Is their hatred of Bush really so severe that they are now willing to dismiss the myriad positive economic indicators as inconclusive and resort to such mindless inanities? If 8.2 percent growth and a four-month recovery of 200,000 jobs are not enough to negate their reflexive rejection of Bush’s tax cuts, what is?
Fortunately for Republicans, the Democrats never seem to learn from past mistakes. In the spirit of great Democratic failures from decades past – Carter, Dukakis, Mondale – they will nominate Howard Dean, who again will pledge to “raise your taxes,” and the American people will again hand the Democrats resounding defeats. I believe Begala’s catchphrase is in need of some revision: “It’s Still the Tax Cuts, Stupid!”
-The writer, a freshman majoring in political science, is a Hatchet columnist.