Bush On Makin' Money
February 01, 2007
George Bush delivered his State of the Economy address Wednesday, appropriately enough, on Wall Street. He noted that, “The Dow Jones has set new records 26 times in the last four months,” and pronounced the economy healthy. Certainly healthy enough for Wall Street, but how about the rest of us?
Not so good, said Bush, admitting, “that income inequality is real; it's been rising for more than 25 years.” Let’s leave aside the obvious observation that if it’s been rising for 25 years, he’s a little late in getting around to it. And then let’s applaud the man for owning up to an important cause for the Republican defeat last November.
But only applaud until his next line. The reason for this inequality is clear, he said, “We have an economy that increasingly rewards education, and skills because of that education.”
Which brings up another obvious point: If education and skills are the reason for increasing rewards, then why is George Bush wealthy?
Only if education is defined as simply spending time at Yale and Harvard would Bush be considered educated. In fact, he has taken pains to demonstrate his lack of learning: his overwrought
Yet, he has loads of money—probably, more than he had when he took office. This despite the fact that George W. Bush never earned money in any way that makes sense to most Americans. Instead, Bush took to heart a principle of wealth: choose your grandparents carefully. And then trust your financial advisers.
In fact, much of what passes for business acumen is inheritance. Someone pointed out that had Donald Trump taken his inherited wealth at age 21 and placed it in a decent mutual fund, he’d have as much money as he’s raked in from his highly-publicized dealings. And so it is with Bush.
Bush and his class have profited from the vast shift in tax burden from the wealthy to the rest of us. And from the phase out of capital gains taxes. And from the dismemberment of inheritance taxes. And from the implementation of capital-friendly trade agreements that rarely help workers of any kind.
At the same speech, Bush bragged, “When I took office,
Having spoken his piece at historic Federal Hall, he hurried up Wall Street to the floor of the Stock Exchange where, he received, said NPR, “a rock star’s reception.” And there, amidst his base, he once again betrayed his class and delivered another attack on economic injustice.
He denounced overly generous CEO pay, and laid down, well not exactly the law, more like a suggestion. “
According to Ben Feller of Canadian Press , “Bush's words on pay were met with complete silence from the business crowd he addressed.” Only later did the President let Wall Street in on the gag. He had no intention of doing anything about it. The government, he said, should not interfere in the running of publicly traded, publicly chartered corporations. Maybe, he ventured, CEOs should disclose all their compensation, but certainly not give it up.
So, in the end, what did Bush say? Well, he urged people to get a college education. But since far more people want a college education than actually get one, this is like telling people that the remedy to unemployment is to get a good job.
And as for Wall Street, they really don’t have to worry about this president.