When President Bush took office in 2001, Republicans and Democrats in Washington had built a strong consensus on the need for fiscal responsibility. Bush blew that apart within a few months. With the country in a recession, a temporary return to deficits was inevitable. But Bush's tax cuts and spending increases and clear disdain for the pay-as-you-go approach that had brought deficits down in the 1990s brought a return to permanent deficits. These actions almost certainly didn't cause the current crisis, but they have left the Federal Government in a much weaker position to combat it.