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Monday, August 15, 2011

Roubini: Should Tea Party Blame Bush For Deficit?

Sometimes history has to be set straight.

Noted economist Nouriel Roubini says in this televised interview that it was former President George W. Bush, and not current President Barack Obama, who bears the blame for the large federal government budget deficits and, by extension, the exploding national debt.

Remember the budget surpluses of the Clinton years?  (Again, to correct the record, the influence of both the Republicans who won in 1994 as adherents of the Contract with America, and the deficit pie chart warnings of 1992's 19%-of-the-popular-vote presidential candidate H. Ross Perot  must be noted.)  Bush came into office with a budget surplus, and left with a 2009 fiscal year projected deficit of $1.23 trillion.  All the bailouts and huge government giveaways -- being paid for directly by all of us and indirectly by our descendants -- began under Bush 43.   The notorious Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was conceived by Bush and enacted by a friendly Congress weeks before the 2008 presidential election.

When commentators -- and many Democrats -- try to tie in the Tea Party movement to the Republican Party deficit hawks, they ignore these facts.  The Tea Party movement did not spontaneously arise in the first six weeks of the Obama Administration.   The deficit hawks were there since Perot's 1992 run. This significant sector of the American population -- which is disproportionately fiscally conservative in personal affairs and entrepreneurial (owning or managing businesses) -- has been fearful of the fiscal day of reckoning when the bills for the accumulated debt come due.

For these reasons, the politicians, campaign consultants and news media who consider the Tea Party to be the handmaidens of the Republican Party continue to be dead wrong.  (Exhibit A: Look at the threatened Tea Party-inspired primary challenges awaiting first-term Republican Allen West from southeastern Florida.)  There are bogus Tea Party organizations which are ultra social conservative and are using fiscal concerns as a cloak of legitimacy; call this "evangelical" conservatism in drag. 

There are undoubtedly many Tea Party organizations which are Republican Party subsidiaries -- and that's just how politics is played.  Co-opting popular movements is part of the game.  But the legitimate Tea Party organizations which care about fiscal prudence are independent from the Republican Party.  These groups and their members are no sure thing to vote Republican, and they form a ready base for the formation of a legitimate third party.

Eric Dixon is a New York election lawyer and political strategist who has previously advised the presidential campaigns of H. Ross Perot and Steve Forbes, as well as numerous other gubernatorial and congressional candidates. 


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