Monday, Jan. 19, 2009

Bush's Budget Blunders

George Bush is leaving the White House with a dismal economic record. By almost every measure — GDP growth, jobs, median incomes, financial-market performance — he stacks up as probably the least-successful President on the economic front since Herbert Hoover.

It's not all Bush's fault. He inherited an inevitable recession in 2001, and even last year's financial collapse was to some extent the result of unsustainable trends in place long before he moved to Washington. Also, we generally give Presidents both more credit and more blame for economic outcomes than they probably deserve. As Bush mock-moaned in his final White House press conference, "Why did the financial collapse have to happen on my watch?"

His next words, though, were, "It's just pathetic, isn't it, self-pity?" So let's spare him the pity. As the decider in the White House for the past eight years, George Bush made some economic calls that don't look smart today. Here are eight of them.