On January 17, 2001, The Onion ran a piece that started:
“Mere days from assuming the presidency and closing the door on eight years of Bill Clinton, president-elect George W. Bush assured the nation in a televised address Tuesday that “our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over.”
On December 21, 2005, Allison of Bloomberg News reported:
“President Bill Clinton left office in 2001 with a federal budget surplus of $127 billion. President George Bush ran a deficit of $319 billion in 2005. So who deserves more credit for fighting red ink?
No question, says Treasury Secretary John Snow: It’s his boss, Bush. Sipping a latte at a Starbucks coffee shop with reporters in Washington two days ago, he said that “the president’s legacy will be one of having significantly reduced the deficit in his time,” and said Clinton’s budget was a “mirage” and “wasn’t a real surplus.”
Snow said the Clinton surplus was inflated by a stock-price bubble and that Bush will be remembered for cutting the gap from a record $412 billion in the 2004 fiscal year.”
Clinton had his issues. No question about it. But the last eight years bankrupted us long before the Bush or Obama bail outs. We don’t just need a healthier relationship to our money. Americans need an entirely different relationship to reality itself.
As Ed at dreamandhustle points out, there are people who never recovered from the post 9/11 layoffs. The ghosts of Katrina are still with us. And these new layoffs remind me of North England and West Virginia. Life went on in those areas after economic devastation but there were some people who never worked again.
Now it turns out — shocking! — that without intervention Social Security will run out much earlier than expected. The New York Times reported on May 12, 2009 that:
Spending on Social Security and Medicare totaled more than $1 trillion last year, accounting for more than one-third of the federal budget.
Can you wrap your mind around that? More than 1/3. What’s in that number? Research and development funding. Getting people off the streets. Infrastructure repairs.
Our decline is being built brick by brick by our inability to respond rather than to react. We — and that’s not just those in government — simply refused to have the discipline to leave the surplus alone. And we treat our resources with absolutely no respect. Decades of gains, representing blood, sweat, tears wiped out with an insincere backward glance. And there are those who in their eagerness to teach whoever a lesson, embrace, no, seek out chaos.
Da da daaaaa. Da da daaaaa. Da da daaaaa, da da daaaa, da da daaaaa ….