In a Washington Times column today, Lawrence Kudlow noted that, despite all of the negativity and criticism of his campaign, President Bush has had a good year.
The troop surge in Iraq is succeeding. America remains safe from terrorist attacks. And the Goldilocks economy is outperforming all expectations.
True enough, especially when you look at these numbers...which come despite the subprime crisis and overall housing market downturn.
- Headline inflation - 2.5%
- Core inflation - 2%
- Real GDP growth - 3%
- Consumer spending - 3%
- Jobs increasing at rate of 100,000/month
- Stock market continues to go up despite obstacles
Kudlow also notes Bush's legislative victories, economic optimism, and his crusade against wasteful spending and pork-barrel earmarks.
Mr. Bush's optimism is well-earned, in Congress too. He has stopped a lot of bad legislation on higher taxing and spending. He won on S-CHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program) and the alternative minimum tax. He mostly prevailed on domestic spending. And he got much of what he wanted on war funding without any pullout dates.
And he is not yet finished. In the most dramatic statement of his holiday news conference, Mr. Bush said he will not stand for continuing congressional proliferation of pork-barrel earmarks.
"Another thing that's not responsible is the number of earmarks the Congress included in the massive spending bill," said Mr. Bush. "The bill they just passed includes about 9,800 earmarks. Together with the previously passed defense spending bill, that means Congress has approved about 11,900 earmarks this year. And so I am instructing Budget Director Jim Nussle to review options for dealing with wasteful spending in the omnibus bill."
This is huge. The statute of limitations for Republican overspending, over-earmarking, and over-corrupting that caused huge congressional losses in last year's campaign will not run out until the GOP shows taxpayers it again can be trusted on key issues of limited government and lower taxes.
In these matters, Republicans must be holier than the pope. And while President Bush has been doing the Lord's work with his newfound veto pen, he must continue to wage war on earmarks if the GOP is to cleanse the political memory of Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, and Randy "Duke" Cunningham.
This behemoth spending-bill was porked-up with such essential items as rodent control in Alaska ($113,000); olive fruit-fly research in France ($213,000); a hunting and fishing museum in Pennsylvania ($200,000); a bike trail in Minnesota ($700,000); a post office museum in Las Vegas ($200,000); and a $2 million monument to Rep. Charlie Rangel in New York.
Will Rangel's monument be inscribed with his quote that "Dick Cheney is a real son of a bitch"? Just wondering, since my federal tax dollars are going to support a project like this.
Kudlow finishes with some optimism and advice for how the GOP should go forward in making the economy even better.
Republicans also can take credit for outmaneuvering the Democrats on a patch for the AMT. The Democrats were made to waive the pay-as-you-go budget rule that might have forced tax increases on businesses and investment pools. Stopping this tax hike is a singular Republican achievement, while the AMT will now be indexed for inflation, thereby sparing more than 20 million taxpayers.
Looking ahead, the economy also would benefit from a corporate tax cut for both large and small businesses, including corporate capital-gains. The U.S. dollar would reap the rewards as new investment flowed in from the world. Several recent studies also show businesses would pass on tax-cost savings to the work force, thereby bolstering wages and ultimately creating new jobs.
Hokey ideas for temporary tax rebates? They should be ignored. But if the president and Republicans wipe out earmarks, hold down spending, and pass a bold corporate tax cut, Goldilocks will be nourished and sustained. Come November 2008, Republicans might be back in the driver's seat.