It's Still the Economy, Stupid!
     by Paul Begala, Simon and Schuster   172 pages
     Reviewed by Donna Di Giacomo

This should be required reading for Democrats who want nothing but the facts.

Paul Begala, a counselor to President Clinton and one half of the political powerhouse consulting team
of Carville & Begala, did a tremendous job of taking Bush and Company's own words and throwing them in their faces.

The copious footnotes back up Begala's arguments.  He quoted from sources progressive, liberal, conservative, and nonpartisan.

Every page is chock full of goodies, scandal after scandal that the corporate press in this country turns a blind eye to
as they do the bidding of their Republican bosses.

Begala starts off by reminding us of just how good we had it during the Clinton years.  Upon taking office in January 1993,
there were close to 10 million Americans who were unemployed.  Clinton, through sound fiscal discipline, created 22.88
million jobs during his administration, "(m)ore jobs than Presidents Reagan and Bush Senior together created in twelve years.
And 91 percent of the Clinton jobs were in the private sector."

Reagan lifted a whopping 77,000 Americans out of poverty (according to the Bureau of the Census) while Clinton got 8.2
million Americans out of poverty.  0.24 percent compared to 21 percent of the poverty rate.  You be the judge.

Begala reminds us what made Clinton's economic policies so successful: He invested in people.  "President Clinton's budgets
were designed to help people make the most of the new opportunities, with a heavy emphasis on education." (Page 10)

Begala reports that under President Clinton:

   "US exports of goods and services grew by 72 percent - to top $1 trillion for the first time . . . jobs that paid as much as
    16 percent above the national average."
   "He created Empowerment Zones to spur local community planning and economic growth in distressed communities through
     tax incentives and federal investment.  Thirty-one Empowerment Zones and 95 Enterprise Communities leveraged over
     $10 billion in new private sector investment, creating thousands of new jobs." (Page 11)
    Clinton presided over the smallest government workforce since JFK, trimming the federal government by 270,000 positions.
    He also trimmed government spending "as a share of the economy" to just 18 percent, compared to Poppy's 21.2 percent.

Then along came the trust funded rich kid who squandered away 8 years of peace and prosperity, economic stability, and the
largest federal surplus in history, $281 billion, in record time.  Begala summed up the sick joke that was known as the 2000
presidential election in two short sentences, "Rather than do the math themselves, the media behaved like high-school kids
who'd rather join the rich and popular kid in mocking the brainiac.  Few held Bush's feet to the fiscal fire."

The many fiscal foul-ups from the MBA court-appointed president are just too numerous to mention here.  Many times we have
heard that Bush's tax cuts are for the wealthiest 1 percent of families in this nation.  37.6 percent of his tax cuts are aimed towards
that needy group of people, cuts that will cost this country $507.6 billion over the next ten years, according to the Congressional
Budget Office, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress.

Under Bush, the top 1% needs that $1,021 a week to make ends meet while the rest of us can make do with anywhere
between $1.27 - $11.54 a week.

Bush's tax "cuts" will deplete the Social Security Trust Fund in record time but Bush doesn't see how the federal government
is responsible for overseeing Social Security.

       "They want the federal government controlling Social Security like it's some kind of federal program."
- Governor Dubya, St. Charles, Missouri, November 2, 2000 (as reported in the November 3, 2000 Washington Post)

Bush wanted to repeal the Alternative Minimum tax cut for corporations as part of an economic stimulus package.  Not only did
he call for a repeal of the tax, but he wanted it repealed retroactively.  The law was enacted in 1986 to ensure that corporations
"pay a minimum amount of federal income tax despite qualified deductions."  Bush wanted his campaign contributors to be able
to get back 15 years of taxes.  "The thought of sending you back some of your past taxes never crossed his mind."  Thank you, Paul.

Then again, none of us have contributed to Dubya the way his pet corporations have.  Since 1993:

       - Enron's board of directors and political action committee has given $2,052,418 to Bush and the GOP
       - Chevron has given more than $1,154,429 to Bush and "other key Republicans."
       - Ford has given $682,698 to Bush and the GOP
       - General Electric has given $693,792 to Bush and the GOP
       - General Motors has given $441,950 to Bush and the GOP
       - Kmart has given $599,262

As the saying goes, "Money talks and bullshit walks."

While Bush helps out his corporate friends, he has done a dandy job of screwing the working sap.
To make his friends even wealthier, Bush has had to cut funding for:
Even Start, Head Start, he has stopped the Child Credit tax, he had $278 million trimmed from training health professionals,
he has put a serious dent into the initiative to put more cops on the streets, his budget eliminated the $60 million grant for the
Boys and Girls Club and cut funding for graduate medical education at children's hospitals.

There have been many readers of Bartcop who want to know why Martha Stewart is being pursued with a vengeance yet
Ken Lay continues to sink his toes in the sand at the local tax shelter.  I found out the answer on page 100.  Under the
section titled, "A Patron of the Art of Politics," Begala fills us in:

       "In point of fact, Enron was the single largest patron of George W. Bush's improbable political career . . . Ken Lay
donated $122,500 to his campaigns for governor, and Enron was a "Gold" sponsor for both of Bush's gubernatorial inaugural
committees - a designation that cost a total of $100,000." (From November 30, 2001 USA Today and the Texas State Archives)

       And when Dubya decided to run for president, Kenny-Boy was there again.  Enron gave $1,328,290 in total to Bush
and the GOP, and Lay himself was a Bush Pioneer, raising at least $100,000 for the Bush presidential campaign.  Lay was
also a co-chairman of an April 2000 RNC gala tribute to Bush, meaning that he raised or contributed at least $250,000 for that event."

Enron did donate money to the Democrats in the 2000 elections.  It gave $152,139 to Dems running for federal office as opposed
to $1,324,315 to Dubya's presidential campaign.

Dubya and Lay were so close; Bush dubbed him "Kenny-Boy."  This association Begala traces back to 1986, when "Bush's oil
company was a partner of Enron in an oil ell back in 1986.  At the time, Bush's firm was known as Spectrum 7, and it was in trouble.
The New York Times says it 'was struggling to stay afloat during a collapse in the world oil prices.'"

       "Enron rode to the rescue.  Although Enron had only been formed in 1985 (by the merger of Houston-based Houston
Natural Gas and Nebraska-based InterNorth), within a year it was in business ... with George W. Bush."

Begala offers evidence to suggest that Dubya was even a lobbyist for Enron.  In 1989, the Argentine newspaper, La Nacion,
reported that George W. Bush had met that year with Rodolfo Terrango, who was the minister of Public Works and Services
in the government of President Raul Alfonsin.  La Nacion said they met in Argentina to discuss oil investments."

       "Terrango said he received a telephone call from Dubya.  The son of the vice president of the United States of America
was calling the Argentine minister of public works and services to pressure him, in the words of the Nation - 'to award a contract
worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Enron, an American firm close to the Bush clan.'" (The Nation, 11/21/94)  Terrange
went on to say, "I felt pressured.  It was not proper for him to make that kind of call." (Ibid.)

Begala does a fantastic job of spelling out how one Dick Cheney, as CEO of Halliburton, set up Halliburton "subsidiaries" (read: tax shelter)
in Iraq, Iran, and Libya and doing millions in business with them.  He also points out that Cheney made $45 million dollars as CEO while
laying off 10,100 workers and cutting health benefits for retirees of Halliburton (you'd think someone who suffered through heart problems,
gout, and cancer would have a bit more compassion but this is another one who wouldn't know a hard day's work).

And for those Bush apologists and the gasbags screaming about "compassionate conservatism," consider this:

(Treasury Secretary Paul) "O'Neill criticized efforts by Democrats to help workers unemployed in the wake of September 11
subsidize their health-insurance premiums with tax credits.  O'Neill said the Democratic plan, 'was a huge reach and change in
policy, putting the federal government into a position where it's now going to create a new entitlement class.'" (Page 154)

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a fine example of "compassionate conservatism."

Bottom line: "...once you realize how massively incompetent Bush and his economic team are, you'll sleep like a baby - waking up
every two hours to cry and wet the bed."

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