Sunday, September 16, 2007

Greenspan contra Bush

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan's new book, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, is set to be released tomorrow. Now, I've never been a huge Greenspan fan -- he is, after all, a Republican, a Reagan appointee, a long-time friend and follower of Ayn Rand, a fiscal right-winger -- but, well, when he says something, or writes something, particularly about politics, and even more particularly about Bush and the Republicans, it's usually worth paying attention. The BBC previews Greenspan's Bush-related comments here:

The former chairman of the US Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan has said President George W Bush pays too little attention to financial discipline.

In a book to be published next week, Mr Greenspan says Mr Bush ignored his advice to veto "out-of-control" bills that sent the US deeper into deficit.

*****

And Mr Bush's Republicans deserved to lose control of Congress in last year's elections, he charges.

He writes that he advised the White House to veto some bills to curb "out-of-control" spending at the time Republicans controlled Congress.

President Bush's failure to do so "was a major mistake", he said.

"Little value was placed on rigorous economic policy debate or the weighing of long-term consequences," he says of the Bush administration.

And he charges that Republicans in Congress "swapped principle for power" and "ended up with neither".

"They deserved to lose."


Yes, they did. Clearly. And for many more reasons than fiscal irresponsibility, Greenspan's pet peeve, although the poor state of the nation's finances is very much a result of what they, and their president, have done in power. But where was Greenspan during the early days of the Bush presidency? Supporting those massive tax cuts for the wealthy, of course, and then the plan to privatize Social Security.

Greenspan may have a lot to say now about the blunders of Bush and the Republicans, but he went along for the ride when he ought to have been offering independent criticism of those and other disastrous policies. He will make a lot of money from this book, as from his post-Fed career generally, but, in the end, talk is cheap.

And the economy is still on the verge of catastrophe.

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