Thursday, September 5, 2002
Bush-Hoover comparison was an insult to Herbert
Marianne Means' column comparing George Bush with Herbert Hoover ("Bush must change economic course," Aug. 27) does that president a disservice. Hoover, I mean.
No matter the verdict of history, or hindsight, as a former secretary of the Commerce Department and a student of government, Hoover was capable and prepared when he entered office. He was presented with an economy that lacked the market controls we have today and in which the federal government played a much smaller role than it has since.
The learned scholars whom Means cites will have to agree that Franklin Roosevelt's initial platform was not so dissimilar to Hoover's. FDR's New Deal was invented some time after he took office.
"Gee-Dub," on the other hand, was prepared neither by training nor intelligence. He was handed a strong, stable economy, one that has simply not been able to withstand the hammering his obtuse policies and boardroom deals have inflicted on it.
Allowing oil companies and energy traders like Enron full run of the field for two years extracted untold billions from consumers and businesses alike, and threw long-term planning into confusion. Power, transportation and consumer's disposable income all felt the bite. The airlines, for example, were already in trouble from this cause prior to 9/11.
Then he pushed through tax breaks for the wealthy, a scheme advertised as an economic stimulus. The result instead has been a drag, creating deficits out of surpluses, leading to higher interest rates in the future and withdrawing significant government demand from the market.
Means is right when she implies stagnation and recession will be the result of Bush's continued political favoritism and intransigent addiction to tax cuts. She is wrong to ascribe to him the purpose and principle that motivated Herbert Hoover.