President’s Day!

18 02 2008

Yay! President’s Day is here! Hail to the Chief, we have chosen for the nation! Hail to the Chief, we salute him one and all! Hail to the one we have selected as commander! Hail to the President, Hail to the Chief!

Okay, I know I’m going to receive a bit of criticism for this last President. Many of us have made fun of him, and for some good reasons. Like saying the word “Nucular”. And pretending to read a book, following along with some schoolkids, but the book was upside down. Okay, so maybe in some ways he’s a puppet. But at least he’s backed with a ‘balls to the walls’ VP (who, incidently, needs more target practice in my opinion…)

That’s right! Our 43rd President, George W. Bush! Can we call him Walker, Texas Ranger?  Oh yeah.  Don’t want to insult the Rangers….  One annoying point I have to point out about the previous administration, was that the night before the staff switch, some funny employees removed all the W’s from the keyboards…. Heh heh heh. Uhhh, Beavis? Oh, I almost forgot. Once again, today’s post is sponsored by Wikipedia.

President George W. Bush

George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the forty-third and current President of the United States of America. He previously served as the forty-sixth Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000 and is the eldest son of former United States President George Herbert Walker Bush. He was inaugurated as President on January 20, 2001 and his current term is scheduled to end on January 20, 2009. He was a 2001 Nobel Peace Prize nominee.

After graduating from college, Bush worked in his family‘s oil businesses. In 1978, he made an unsuccessful run for the U.S. House of Representatives. He later co-owned the Texas Rangers baseball team before returning to politics in a campaign for Governor of Texas. He defeated Ann Richards and was elected Governor of Texas in 1994. Bush was elected to the Presidency in 2000 as the Republican candidate in a close and controversial contest, in which he lost the nationwide popular vote, but won the electoral vote.

As president, Bush signed into law a $1.35 trillion tax cut program in 2001, and in 2002 the No Child Left Behind Act. In October 2001, after the attacks on September 11, 2001, Bush announced a global War on Terrorism and ordered an invasion of Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban, destroy Al-Qaeda, and to capture Osama bin Laden. In March 2003, Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq, asserting that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction and that the war was necessary for the protection of the United States.

Running in the midst of the Iraq War, Bush was re-elected on November 2, 2004; his presidential campaign against Senator John Kerry was successful despite controversy over Bush’s execution of the Iraq War and domestic issues. After his re-election, Bush received increasingly heated criticism. He has the distinction of having some of the highest and lowest approval ratings of any president in history during his term. His domestic approval rating has ranged from 90 percent (the highest ever recorded by The Gallup Organization) immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks to a low of 24 percent, the highest level of disfavor for any sitting president since Richard Nixon. [Gee, I wonder why?]

Economic policy

Facing opposition in Congress, Bush held town hall-style public meetings across the U.S. in 2001 to increase public support for his plan for a US$1.35 trillion tax cut program — one of the largest tax cuts in U.S. history. Bush and his economic advisers argued that unspent government funds should be returned to taxpayers. With reports of the threat of recession from Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Bush argued that such a tax cut would stimulate the economy and create jobs. Others, including the Treasury Secretary at the time Paul O’Neill, were opposed to some of the tax cuts on the basis that they would contribute to budget deficits and undermine Social Security.

Under the Bush Administration, Real GDP has grown at an average annual rate of 2.5 percent, considerably below the average for business cycles from 1949 to 2000.[57][58] The Dow Jones Industrial Average has grown by about 30 percent since January 2001. Unemployment rose from 4.2 percent in January 2001 to 6.3 percent in June 2003, dropping to 4.5 percent as of July 2007. The on-budget deficit for 2006 was US$434 billion, a change from an US$86 billion surplus in 2000.Inflation-adjusted median household income has been flat while the nation’s poverty rate has increased. By August 23, 2007, the national debt had officially risen to US$8.98 trillion dollars; the national debt has increased US$3.25 trillion dollars since Bush took office.

While some argue that the Bush-era economy has mostly benefited the wealthy and not the majority of middle and lower-class citizens, and still others have claimed the exact opposite; information available suggests that the standard of living has increased on all rungs of the socio-economic strata — with the bulk of income gains having gone to the top 1 percent, whose share of income has increased substantially.

Another significant part of the Bush economic plan was the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.

Education and health

Bush signs the No Child Left Behind Act into law.

Bush signs the No Child Left Behind Act into law.

The No Child Left Behind Act aimed to measure and close the gap between rich and poor student performance, provide options to parents with students in low-performing schools, and target more federal funding to low-income schools. Critics argue that Bush has underfunded his own program, and Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy has claimed: “The tragedy is that these long-overdue reforms are finally in place, but the funds are not.”[71] Many educational experts have criticized these reforms, contending that NCLBA’s focus on “high stakes testing” and quantitative outcomes is counterproductive.[72][73] Bush increased funding for the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health in his first years of office, and created education programs to strengthen the grounding in science and mathematics for American high school students. However, funding for NIH failed to keep up with inflation in 2004 and 2005, and was actually cut in 2006, the first such cut in 36 years.

In 2007, Bush opposed and vetoed State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) legislation which was tied by the Democrats onto a war funding bill and passed by Congress. The SCHIP legislation would have significantly expanded federally-funded health care benefits and plans to children of some low-income families from about 6 million to 10 million children. It was to be funded by an increase in the cigarette tax.[75] Bush viewed the legislation as a move toward the liberal platform of socialized health care, and claimed that the program could benefit families making as much as US$83,000 per year who would not have otherwise needed the help.[76]

Social services and Social Security

Bush promoted increased deregulation and investment options in social services, leading Republican efforts to pass the Medicare Act of 2003, which added prescription drug coverage to Medicare and created Health Savings Accounts, which would permit people to set aside a portion of their Medicare tax to build a “nest egg”. The retired persons lobby group AARP worked with the Bush Administration on the program and gave their endorsement. Bush said the law, estimated to cost US$400 billion over the first 10 years, would give the elderly “better choices and more control over their health care”.[77]

Bush began his second term by outlining a major initiative to reform Social Security, which was facing record deficit projections beginning in 2005. Bush made it the centerpiece of his agenda despite contrary beliefs in the media and in the U.S. Congress, which saw the program as the “third rail of politics,” with the American public being suspicious of any attempt to change it. It was also widely believed to be the province of the Democratic Party, with Republicans in the past having been accused of efforts to dismantle or privatize it. In his 2005 State of the Union address, Bush discussed the allegedly impending bankruptcy of the program and attacked political inertia against reform. He proposed options to permit Americans to divert a portion of their Social Security tax (FICA) into secured investments, creating a “nest egg” that he claimed would enjoy steady growth. Despite emphasizing safeguards and remaining open to other plans, Bush’s proposal was criticized for its high cost, and Democrats attacked it as an effort to partially privatize the system, and for leaving Americans open to the whims of the market. Bush embarked on a 60-day national tour, campaigning vigorously for his initiative in media events (“Conversations on Social Security”) in a largely unsuccessful attempt to gain support from the general public.[78] Despite energetic campaign by Bush to promote his Social Security reform plan, by May 2005 the public support for the Bush proposal declined substantially[79] and the House GOP leadership decided not to put Social Security reform on the priority list for the remainder of their 2005 legislative agenda.[80] The proposal’s legislative prospects were further diminished by the political fallout from the Hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005.[81] In the run-up to the 2006 congressional elections, the Republican leadership in Congress put the hot-button issue of the Social Security reform on the back burner. No substantive legislative action was taken on this issue in 2006. After the Democrats took over control of both houses of Congress as a result of the 2006 mid-term elections, the prospects of any further congressional action on the Bush proposal appeared to be dead for the remainder of his term in office.

Environmental policy and global warming

Upon arriving in office in 2001, Bush did not support the Kyoto Protocol, an amendment to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change which seeks to impose mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Bush partially based this decision on the fact that the Senate had voted 95–0 in 1997 on a resolution expressing its disapproval of the protocol. Bush asserted he would not support it because the treaty exempted 80 percent of the world’s population[82] and would have cost the economy tens of billions of dollars per year,[83] and was based on the uncertain science of climate change.[84] The Bush Administration’s stance on global warming has remained controversial in the scientific and environmental communities during his presidency.

In 2004, the Director of NASA‘s Goddard Institute, James Hansen, publicly and harshly accused the Administration of misinforming the public by suppressing the scientific evidence of the dangers of greenhouse gases, saying the Bush Administration wanted to hear only scientific results that “fit predetermined, inflexible positions” and edited reports to make the dangers sound less threatening in what he asserted was “direct opposition to the most fundamental precepts of science.”[85][86] Other experts, such as former United States Department of Energy official Joseph Romm, have decried the Bush administration as a “denier and delayer” of government action essential to reduce carbon emissions and deter global warming.[87] Bush had said that he has consistently noted that global warming is a serious problem, but asserted there is a “debate over whether it’s manmade or naturally caused”.[88] In his 2007 State of the Union Address, Bush renewed his pledge to work toward diminished reliance on foreign oil by reducing fossil fuel consumption and increasing alternative fuel production.[89]

In 2002, Bush announced the Clear Skies Initiative,[90] aimed at amending the Clean Air Act to reduce air pollution through the use of emissions trading programs. Critics contended that it would have weakened the original legislation by allowing higher levels of pollutants than were permitted at that time.[91] The initiative was introduced to Congress, but failed to make it out of committee.

In 2006 Bush declared the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a national monument, creating the largest marine reserve to date. The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument comprises 84 million acres (340,000 km²) and is home to 7,000 species of fish, birds and other marine animals, many of which are specific to only those islands.[92] The move was hailed by conservationists for “its foresight and leadership in protecting this incredible area.”[93]

During his 2008 State of the Union Address Bush announce that the U.S. would commit US$2 billion over the next three years towards a new international fund to promote clean energy technologies and fight climate change. He declared that; “along with contributions from other countries, this fund will increase and accelerate the deployment of all forms of cleaner, more efficient technologies in developing nations like India and China, and help leverage substantial private-sector capital by making clean energy projects more financially attractive.”

During the speech, Bush announced plans to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to work with major economies and through the United Nations to complete an international agreement that will slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases. He stated that; “this agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride.” [94]

Okay, without getting into my own political views, of which there are many, I will give Bush credit for the good work he is doing at his ranch. While many of our political powerhouses hail from large families with lots of moola, most live in expansive estates that cost thousands of dollars every month to maintain. Bush really has a good thing going on his ranch in Texas. Solar power put to good use, I hear he even has a wind turbine for extra power, they make good use of just about everything on the ranch too. Scraps are turned into compost, which is then used for fertilizer and food for cattle. Even the cow patties are used for fertilizer in the veggie garden. Bush has made many, many, many, many mistakes in office, but at least in his personal life he’s trying to make a difference. Just a good ‘ol boy trying to make a difference.


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