Third Party & Independents Archives

Clinton on Bush's Economic Philosophy

In his speech last night, Bill Clinton said that the Republicans and George W. Bush wanted to “leave ordinary citizens to fend for themselves on matters like health care and retirement security.” This is a common misconception about the current administration’s so-called radical conservatism on domestic economic issues. In fact, this administration has refused to take any significant steps to allow ordinary Americans to “fend for themselves.”

The vision Clinton refers to is one that many conservatives and libertarians do hold. We believe that leaving people to fend for themselves its not a cruel, heartless mantra- it is the way responsible adults should be treated. We believe Clinton’s so-called ordinary American is capable of saving for his own retirement (and far better at it than the disastrous social security system, which takes 12% of his income and gives him back dimes on the dollar). We believe that this ordinary American is not so stupid and irresponsible that he cant be trusted with his own life, health and economic affairs. We believe this country was built as a place where this American could stand up on his own two feet and take his best shot at life- without training wheels, without being treated like a child by the government. This is the vision that Bill Clinton accuses George W. Bush and Republicans of holding.

The above worldview- one which Ronald Reagan understood- is absent from the Bush administration’s domestic policies. Bush is exactly what I feared he would become- a so-called “compassionate conservative.” Bush’s administration has thrown ever more money into the sinkhole that is Medicare- showing that it is not willing to let “ordinary Americans to fend for themselves.” Despite Democratic catcalls to the contrary, Bush has made no serious efforts to privatize social security, which would allow people to have personal ownership in their own retirement. Bush has not reduced the size of the federal government’s involvement in Americans’ lives and has not taken any steps to allow Americans to live without the government-forced safety net.

Bill Clinton’s goal was to lay out the difference in vision between the two major parties. He said that both parties believe in “freedom, faith, and family,” but have different ways of achieving their objectives. If only the contrast was so clear. Both Bush and Kerry do not believe you can save for your retirement. Both Bush and Kerry want to continue increasing Medicare, just in different ways. Both Bush and Kerry want government heavily involved in virtually every aspect of your life- because the government’s enlightened policies can run your life for you better than you can.

My Republican friends keep telling me that once we re-elect Bush, he will actually become the conservative that Clinton characterizes him as. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Posted by Misha Tseytlin at July 27, 2004 3:04 AM