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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    have not gained enough ground to justify the kind of stock market growth that people took for granted in the booming 1990s And businesses are trying to rebuild profits by shedding labor which means less new job creation and flat wages Consider different key voting groups It s a dismal economy for seniors Interest rates are very low which means that older people living on savings are earning practically nothing on bank CDs or bonds Fewer stocks pay dividends than did a generation ago Private pensions are dwindling The official rate of inflation is low which means minuscule annual inflation adjustments in Social Security but try explaining that to an older American coping with escalating drug prices and rising out of pocket payments for medical care The young are likely to be as frustrated as the old This summer is the worst job market in at least a decade for recent college grads and even worse for high school graduates not going on to college Unemployment for minorities is soaring Working families like seniors can read the low inflation statistics and wonder at their own personal experience Mortgages are a good deal but rental housing is scarce and sky high Health costs keep soaring as employers shift costs to their workers As cities and states face reduced federal aid property taxes are rising while services are being cut Bush can rightly claim that he inherited the aftermath of the Internet bubble But the fair rejoinder is to ask what he did about it What he did of course was to bestow an immense tax cut tilted to the very affluent This was advertised as pro jobs But as anti recession medicine it s about the weakest remedy available The very rich don t spend most of that money And in a soft economy neither do they invest it entrepreneurially The venture capital boom has still not recovered from the Internet bust It would have been much more tonic to deliver that money to the hard pressed states and cities something that presidents of both parties have done in previous downturns to spend it on services like health and education and child care and to tilt the tax cut downwards putting buying power in the pockets of working families So Bush will be rightly held accountable for economic policies since January 2001 But what about Topic A national security The Bush team mounted a successful invasion of Baghdad but it s no better at rebuilding Iraq s economy society and security than at reviving our own And its foolish economic policy of starve the states also hurts homeland security Count this president increasingly vulnerable on both fronts Robert Kuttner is co editor of the Prospect This column originally appeared in yesterday s Boston Globe Copyright 2003 by The American Prospect Inc Preferred Citation Robert Kuttner Weakest Link Why Bush will be vulnerable on the economy in 2004 The American Prospect Online July 10 2003 Fair Use Notice This site contains copyrighted

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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    be as burdensome if the costs of health care suddenly plunge and Social Security might not be such a burden if people work longer before retiring What they ve done is thoughtful analytically sound and numerically cautious but they haven t put in the huge caveat about the range of uncertainty said Richard Kogan a senior fellow at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities a Washington think tank It s so large that we can t know if the problem is twice as great or a quarter as great as what they re saying And even if the 44 2 trillion figure is correct it won t come due all at once there likely will be time to take incremental steps early to deal with it Kogan added Nevertheless even the White House admits the shortfall will become a real problem soon in 10 years or less in fact when Baby Boomers start retiring putting more of a strain on the Social Security and Medicare systems The White House has said raising taxes 7 1 percent would fix the problem forever but a tax increase of that size is also highly likely to sink the economy Policy makers take notice Gokhale asserts that fixing the massive shortfall he projects assuming the government chooses not to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits soon will force the government to pick from an array of even nastier poisons including boosting individual and corporate taxes 69 percent raising payroll taxes 95 percent cutting non Social Security and non Medicare spending 56 percent eliminating all other federal government spending or some combination of each of these four measures And while you can bet your retirement money that no Congress will ever take such dramatic steps policy makers are nonetheless apparently sitting up and taking notice of the of the worst case possibilities The Financial Times reported Thursday that the Gokhale Smetters study was commissioned by Paul O Neill when he was treasury secretary and Smetters told the paper that White House advisers Lawrence Lindsey and Mitch Daniels read and were very engaged with it The Treasury Department Thursday denied having anything to do with the study which is likely to be published by the AEI in July and Gokhale said it was meant only to be a talk piece But the Social Security Administration has started using the Gokhale Smetters accounting method to project future deficits and Gokhale is hopeful the rest of the government soon will follow suit unlike some analysts he thinks his longer range view is better since it takes into account all possible spending by the government We need these measures because we need to be able to evaluate the trade offs involved and the alternative methods of solving the problem Gokhale said To do that we have to take the full fiscal imbalance into account Fair Use Notice This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner We are

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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    because the dividend plan along with a major small business tax cut and other provisions will never be allowed to expire as the bill calls for If those measures were extended until 2013 the bill s true cost would far exceed 660 billion and could reach Bush s original 726 billion request according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities It is a measure of how far fiscal discipline has slipped that the Senate would even consider such hocus pocus in the wake of the Enron accounting scandal said Robert Bixby executive director of the Concord Coalition a budget watchdog group Washington Post 05 16 03 The Bush deficit of 304 billion the largest in history as well as the most precipitous is pre budget With the new Bush budget in place our deficit is 5 4 trillion over ten years Bush is back loading the deficit so the entire economic penality of what he is doing will not be readily apparent until after he is out of office Paul Krugman suggests that we count on that post budget deficit to increase by around 140 billion evey six months and that s based upon past behavior and does not count the Bush war against Iraq Independent analysts who take into account the stuff the administration pretends doesn t exist the war the alternative minimum tax and so on think we re looking at deficits of 3 or 4 percent of G D P maybe more for the next decade And then it will get much worse We know that a deficit such as that which is predicted could move our country into a depression in ten or so years But as Bush said as he was leaving Texas for D C when told that the state was moving into deficit spending due to his ill advised tax cuts That s not my problem Note This was written in February prior to any discussion of the new round of Bush tax cuts so please add 7 trillion in deficits to the previously stated 5 4 trillion adding up to a grand total of 6 1 trillion in deficits in ten years all created by Bush to date This does not include the added deficit spending based upon the new tax cut Bush has said he will propose next year prior to the presidential election according to a recent story in the Washington Post nor does it include servicing of the debt which will continue to grow each year as the deficit continues to increase Politex 05 16 03 Fair Use Notice This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental political economic democratic domestic and international issues etc We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law In accordance with Title 17

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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    could just call the governor of Pennsylvania and tell him Enron is a serious company this is a professional company a good company Since we now know Enron lacked those virtues it s clear Bush was used to sell a bill of goods to the unsuspecting Pennsylvania folks That Lay was instrumental in Bush s rise to the presidency is indisputable Since 1993 Lay and top Enron executives donated nearly 2 million to Bush Lay also personally donated 326 000 in soft money to the Republican Party in the three years prior to Bush s presidential bid and he was one of the Republican pioneers who raised 100 000 in smaller contributions for Bush Lay s wife donated 100 000 for inauguration festivities As governor Bush did what Enron wanted cutting taxes and deregulating utilities The deregulation ideology which George W long had adopted as gospel allowed dubious bookkeeping and other acts of chicanery that shocked Wall Street and drove a 60 billion company seventh on the Fortune 500 list into bankruptcy This emerging scandal makes Whitewater seem puny in comparison clearly there ought to be at least as aggressive a congressional inquiry into the connection between the Bush administration and the Enron debacle Facts must be revealed beginning with the content of Lay s private meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney to create the administration s energy policy What was Lay s role in the sudden replacement of Curtis Hebert Jr as Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman As the New York Times reported Hebert had barely settled into his new job this year when he had an unsettling telephone conversation with Kenneth L Lay in which Lay prodded him to back a faster pace in opening up access to the electricity transmission grid to companies like Enron Lay admits making the call but in an unctuous defense of his influence peddling said The final decision on Hebert s job was going to be the president s certainly not ours Soon after Hebert was replaced by Texan Pat Wood who was favored by Lay Other questions Was there any conflict of interest in the roles played by key Bush aides Political advisor Karl Rove owned as much as 250 000 in Enron stock And economic advisor Larry Lindsay and Trade Representative Robert B Zoellick went straight from Enron s payroll to their federal jobs There are other Enron alum in the administration including Army Secretary Thomas White Jr who as an Enron executive held stock and options totaling 50 million to 100 million We have a right to know whether the Enron alums in the administration were tipped off in time to bail out with profit the way Lay and the other Enron top execs did while their workers and stockholders and eventually U S taxpayers are being left holding the suddenly empty bag La Opinion Robert Scheer writes a syndicated column Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times Fair Use Notice This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has

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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    bowing out of political life The Texas Senator clearly saw the writing on the wall What was Enron In the wake of Enron s spectacular demise a whole host of media analysts are wagging their fingers at what they describe as the excesses of the 1990s A New York Times column A Bubble That Enron Insiders and Outsiders Didn t Want to Pop points out that Enron was not much of a company but its executives made sure it was one hell of a stock Enron has become an indictment of the anything goes approach to business that characterized the late 1990s The bull market convinced analysts investors accountants and even regulators that as long as stock prices stayed high there was no need to question company practices The Times cites comments by the president of a money management firm who suggests that Enron was the prime example of all the things that were allowed to go wrong during the stock market mania This wall got built brick by brick in broad daylight in the 1990 s by companies doing whatever they had to do to make their numbers being willing to sacrifice the long term well being of the company so that executives could get rich The Times piece is useful as far as it goes but it is intended to leave the impression that there was something aberrational about the conditions which made Enron s growth possible and about the company s operations themselves One is presumably meant to conclude that finally cooler heads have prevailed On the contrary Enron is a paradigm for American capitalism in the era of Reagan Clinton and the two Bushes As we have previously noted on the WSWS the deregulatory policies of Republican and Democratic administrations alike created conditions where profits could be accumulated not through the construction of new facilities and the organization of new energy supplies but through manipulations in the energy market Enron acted like a financial speculator purchasing and selling energy contracts extending months and even years into the future Enron was not an excrescence some entity peripheral to the workings of American and global capitalism Through its drive for shareholder value at any cost the company became the universal business model Lay may have been a parvenu but his firm enjoyed the most fruitful relations with old money The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Enron s ties to Wall Street and the most respectable American financial institutions Regulators are probing to see whether banks such as J P Morgan Chase Co and Citigroup helped Enron carry out its massive fraud The Wall Street Journal in a piece suggestively titled How Wall Street Greased Enron s Money Engine writes The upshot Some of the world s leading banks and brokerage firms provided Enron with crucial help in creating the intricate and in crucial ways misleading financial structure that fueled the energy trader s impressive rise but ultimately led to its spectacular downfall Indeed without the financial grease from Wall Street Enron wouldn t have grown into the nation s biggest energy trader and seventh biggest company In return Wall Street firms earned hundreds of millions of dollars in fees 214 million in underwriting alone and much more in lending derivatives trading and merger advice Enron rose to the top of the heap over the past decade through corrupt reckless and socially destructive methods The firm created a market for energy futures where none existed or needed to exist Its role in California was particularly disastrous where it deliberately manipulated energy prices helping to nearly bankrupt the state Some of its activities were openly criminal It was apparently assisted in its shady operations by accountants at Andersen whose officials have now acknowledged that the firm shredded or deleted thousands of potentially incriminating documents as the roof was falling in last autumn Enron essentially produced nothing and served no legitimate economic purpose Skilling believed in the words of a Journal analysis that a company didn t need a lot of hard assets to thrive Hard assets Mr Skilling said tied up cash that could be more profitably deployed trading He emphasized divesting Enron of big iron i e machinery and equipment and instead putting the money to work trading everything from electricity to Internet bandwidth from memory chips to advertising space Enron became a giant confidence scheme in which elaborate and opaque accounting methods were used to hide massive losses and continue attracting credit In the end Enron s asset light approach led to disaster when disclosures of its web of transactions with related partnerships some headed by company executives shook investor confidence Of Enron s reported 60 billion in assets only about 10 15 billion is still in physical plant and equipment according to estimates Enron s methods accumulated fantastic wealth in the hands of top executives and have now wrought devastation on its workforce and those taken in by its promises Bush officials see nothing extraordinary about Enron s rise and fall Treasury Secretary Paul O Neill who has also acknowledged receiving calls from Lay last October about Enron s financial crisis stated in a television interview last weekend that he was not surprised by the company s demise Demonstrating utter indifference to the fate of thousands of Enron workers and small investors who have been ruined by the collapse of the firm the treasury secretary doing his best Marie Antoinette impression continued I ve watched lots of corporations come and go There are very few companies that have been around for 40 or 50 years Companies come and go It s part of the genius of capitalism People get to make good decisions or bad decisions and they get to pay the consequences or to enjoy the fruits of their decisions That s the way the system works This comment ignores the small nagging fact that Enron employees and those who invested in the company had no say in or foreknowledge of the decisions made by

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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    before it tanked WorldCom is a political boon to the president because it allows him to moralize about epic scale crime without mentioning Enron Halliburton or Harken But the Enron bomb hasn t been defused Its next detonation may come the day someone outside the administration unearths the as yet mostly secret names of those buddies of Enron executives who were let into the hundreds of side partnerships that overnight yielded multimillion dollar plunder on nominal stakes with ordinary stockholders left paying the bill Not in memory has a single major company grown so big in tandem with a presidential dynasty and a corrupted political system wrote the Republican political analyst Kevin Phillips in The Los Angeles Times five months ago tracing Bush family favor swapping with Enron back to 1988 and likening Enron s potential damage to that of the Harding administration s Teapot Dome scandals The question now is whether what went up together will come down together It s a question only Mr Bush can answer He can give the oil cronies within his administration an ethical pass much as Harding did He can keep trying to finesse the Wall Street crisis with rhetorical panaceas as empty as his father s Message I care response to his own economic storm Or he can fulfill a campaign promise and become a reformer with results a Teddy Roosevelt who cleans up capitalism to make it stronger No flowery speeches are required to describe the reforms needed now from fully independent policing of accounting firms to the complete prohibition of conflicts of interest that encourage both accountants and stockbrokers to cut corners No off balance sheet or offshore entities no shell corporations no sham transactions adds Robert Morgenthau the Manhattan district attorney who is pursuing Enron more aggressively than the administration is Arthur Levitt the former S E C chairman urges legislation that increases the legal liability for investment bankers lawyers and accountants who aid abet and also profit from corporate Ponzi schemes The president could get real reform in a heartbeat says Eliot Spitzer the New York attorney general who went after Merrill Lynch while the Pitt S E C slept All he has to do is call Oxley Michael Oxley who is steering a weak Republican reform bill through the House and say this is the bill we re passing instead But that s about as likely as Martha Stewart discovering a cure for cancer instead of trying to cash in on one Mr Bush has already opposed the notion of requiring corporations to count executive stock options as expenses a simple fix endorsed by Alan Greenspan and Warren Buffett as an antidote to fictional profits The Treasury Department Newsweek reports is hard at work stifling a bill that would end the offshore shenanigans that allowed Enron with 800 plus such entities to evade taxes in four out of five years Even within existing law the Bush administration s notion of enforcement is the antithesis of T R

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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    heavily on increasing supplies of traditional fossil fuels like oil natural gas and coal Still it is distressing that on a matter of this magnitude so few opposing voices were heard It is no less disturbing that the industries that had the most to gain many of them major campaign contributors played such an intimate and influential role in conceiving the final product The narrowness of the administration s search for advice was confirmed in more than 11 000 pages of documents released by the Energy Department on Monday in response to a lawsuit brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council A separate suit against the department and six other government agencies has been filed by Judicial Watch The documents were accompanied by a press release boasting that the department had surrendered 11 000 pages of documents whereas the Defense Council had asked for only 7 584 That might have been more convincing if so many of the pages hadn t been blanked out or sanitized The department also provided a disingenuous chart suggesting significant similarities between the Defense Council s recommendations and those adopted by Mr Cheney s task force A closer examination of the two positions reveals that on matters of central importance drilling on sensitive public lands easing clean air regulations increasing fuel economy standards there are wide differences Thanks in part to the unbalanced Cheney report the House produced an alarmingly one sided bill with 27 billion in subsidies for traditional energy producers and only 6 billion for conservation In the Senate a more promising bill has been weakened by industry pressure That s what happens when only one side of an issue gets a fair hearing in Washington Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company Fair Use Notice This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental political economic democratic domestic and international issues etc We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law In accordance with Title 17 U S C Section 107 the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes For more information go to http www law cornell edu uscode 17 107 shtml If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use you must obtain permission from the copyright owner 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64

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  • Topplebush.com: A premier collection of articles on Bush and his family, past and present, including many articles on his failures as a businessman and as Governor of TX and President
    rules that save threatened public lands from ruinous road building He s sabotaged efforts to hold refinery and power plant polluters accountable There s more to come The White House is moving to allow coal companies to bury entire valleys under mountains of mining waste to derail the cleanup of polluted lakes streams and rivers and to exempt entire categories of polluters from the Clean Air Act As EPA Administrator Ms Whitman is supposed to uphold environmental laws But her boss would rather protect the profits of his political patrons than protect public health or the nation s natural heritage He s counting on Whitman s help to make sure voters don t catch on Fair Use Notice This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental political economic democratic domestic and international issues etc We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law In accordance with Title 17 U S C Section 107 the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes For more information go to http www law cornell edu uscode 17 107 shtml If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use you must obtain permission from the copyright owner 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39

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