Friday, June 15, 2012

Americans still blame George W. Bush, and the Republican Party he rode in on, for the bad economy

A recent Gallup poll indicates that Americans are still far more likely to blame Bush for the bad economy than Obama, and the numbers haven't changed substantially since last September.

Gallup first asked this "blame assessment" question in July 2009, six months after Obama became president. At that point, 80% of Americans gave Bush a great deal or a moderate amount of blame, compared with 32% who ascribed the same level of blame for the bad economy to Obama. The percentage blaming Bush dropped to about 70% in August 2010, and has stayed roughly in that range since. Meanwhile, about half of Americans have blamed Obama since March 2010, with little substantive change from then to the present.

Though the Romney campaign has no trouble lying about most things, they haven't been able to say that Obama caused the Great Recession, so the best they can do is say that he either hasn't fixed it quickly enough or he's made it worse.

The other piece is that many Republicans have had no difficulty throwing George W. Bush under the bus by implying they the GOP is now a fundamentally different animal opposed to the policies of both the current Democratic and the most recent Republican administration.

Romney has certainly done nothing to associate himself with W., preferring instead to go back to Reagan for inspiration, despite the fact that Reagan had no difficulty raising taxes and would be, as Jeb Bush recently said, unwelcome in today's GOP.

Implying that George W. Bush was a part of the problem is almost a requirement for Romney given how many Republicans fault Bush for the bad economy.

Republicans and Democrats distribute economic blame in different ways, as was the case last September. Democrats follow what might be described as a fairly traditional pattern: 90% blame Bush, in contrast to 19% who blame Obama.

Republicans, however, are more ecumenical in their blame, with 83% blaming Obama a great deal or moderate amount and 49% ascribing the same level of blame to Bush. Republicans, in short, are significantly more willing to blame their most recent Republican president than are Democrats willing to blame Obama.

I do understand that Romney is trying to claim there is a statute of limitations on blaming the last guy, but to the extent that the policies of 2001-2009 got us into such trouble in the first place, like under-regulating Wall Street, getting us into unnecessary wars and cutting taxes on those most able to pay, it's doubtful this will be completely successful.

I also understand the Republicans claim Obama should have been quicker to fix the mess Republicans made. It's just that at a common sense level it kind of sounds like a stupid thing to claim. And if there's one thing that is true in politics, it's that at a common sense level you want to avoid sounding too stupid.

To put a fine point on it: blindly rigid, pro-business policies, lacking any sense of concern for the public good is what got us into the jam we're in. Offering more of that, as Romney is doing, sounds pretty stupid (see paragraph above).

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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