October 18, 2005


In Sign of Conservative Split, a Commentator Is Dismissed (RICHARD W. STEVENSON, 10/18/05, NY Times)

In the latest sign of the deepening split among conservatives over how far to go in challenging President Bush, Bruce Bartlett, a Republican commentator who has been increasingly critical of the White House, was dismissed on Monday as a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative research group based in Dallas.

In a statement, the organization said the decision was made after Mr. Bartlett supplied its president, John C. Goodman, with the manuscript of his forthcoming book, "The Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy."

Mr. Bartlett, who was a domestic policy aide at the White House in the Reagan administration and a deputy assistant Treasury secretary under the first President Bush, confirmed that he had been dismissed after 10 years with the center but declined to make any further comment. [...]

Mr. Bartlett was an early proponent of supply-side economics, and in the late 1970's was active in promoting the tax-cutting philosophy that later became the basis for President Ronald Reagan's economic agenda. In recent years he has written a syndicated newspaper column as well as articles for academic journals.

Like many economic conservatives, he has grown increasingly disenchanted with the current administration's fiscal policy, arguing that Mr. Bush has tolerated if not encouraged a federal spending spree, dashing conservative hopes for progress toward a smaller, leaner government.

So a guy who's resume highlight is the time when he "helped" Ronald Reagan give us deficits that were 5% of GDP has written a book critical of George W. Bush for giving us deficits equal to 3.5% of GDP? Mr. Bartlett's old boss used to dismiss folks like he's become as the "green-eyeshade crowd."

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 18, 2005 12:28 PM

It really is astonishing.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at October 18, 2005 12:41 PM

Especially when for 2005 the deficit was only 2.6% of GDP.

Posted by: mc at October 18, 2005 1:13 PM

I think Bartlett is upset because Bush has been making "unnecessary" compromises on spending. A new round of tax cuts would be possible now, if Bush had exercised his veto power more in the 1st term. Personally I think the idea that Kerry was able come within 2% of Bush in 2004 is of course due to the Iraqi War (our occupation has caught the Admin. by surprise and the public knows it), but also the contrast of our large budget deficits with what occurred under Clinton.

Bartlett probably thinks Social Security reform has been sunk by those same deficits. Vetos by Bush would have strengthened fiscal conservatives in Congress, but now they are merely silent.

By the way I think Bush should have beaten Kerry considerably worse than he did despite problems in Iraq.

Posted by: h-man at October 18, 2005 5:07 PM


Mr. Bartlett and Ronald Reagan had raised taxes twice by this point.

Posted by: oj at October 18, 2005 5:15 PM

I was going to address that, but had to go back to work. And yes you are correct. The views stated above are of course mine and not Bartlett. I would probably criticize Reagan on that basis also. Those deficits of Reagan eventually gave HW Bush great difficulty.

Posted by: h-man at October 18, 2005 6:29 PM

Thinking (wrongly) that deficits were a problem and justified breaking his no new taxes pledge did in GHWB.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 18, 2005 8:28 PM

Mr. Bartlett...a deputy assistant Treasury secretary under the first President Bush

Maybe what Mr. Bartlett wants is a big tax increase like the three he godfathered previously?

Posted by: oj at October 18, 2005 8:38 PM

You are correct again, but like I said I'm actually expressing my views, Bartlett can talk for himself. (I hope nothing I said indicated I supported higher taxes)

Deficits do have negative impact, but lets assume they don't. Then why are we paying any taxes?

On a practical political level, I believe the larger deficits under Bush compared with Clinton administration is one of the reasons social security reform appears to be DOA. Continued surpluses will be needed to fund present benefits of retirees while younger workers have their funds redirected to private accounts.

Posted by: h-man at October 19, 2005 5:07 AM

That's just cant. Where's the evidence that deficits have a negative impact? Indeed, they appear to have a favorable one.

Posted by: oj at October 19, 2005 8:29 AM

H: To the extent that my comment suggests that no deficit is a problem, that was too broad. I intended to say that the deficits that GHWB faced were no problem. Deficits at the Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush levels (and Clinton's surpluse was social security accounting magic -- the national debt increased every year he was president) are not a problem. There is likely some small effect tending towards higher interest rates, but the effect is so small that it is always swamped by whatever else is going on in the economy.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 19, 2005 11:43 AM