A Bush By Any Other Name

President Barack Obama is often likened – and clearly sees himself as spiritual successor – to presidential luminaries like Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. But he is fast on track to following the footsteps of a less celebrated predecessor – George H.W. Bush.

Candidate Bush accepted his party’s nomination at the 1988 Republican National Convention with the immortal, Peggy Noonan-penned promise “Read my lips: no new taxes.” When President Bush later agreed to raise taxes as part of the 1990 budget negotiations, he wrecked his re-election chances and became a one-termer.

In September, 2008, candidate Obama promised, “I can make this firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making $250,000 will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”

Oops. The health care bill the House passed on Saturday, for which Obama personally lobbied members of Congress, contains – new taxes. Lots of them. New taxes that will effect earners of all income levels, but which will especially hurt small-business owners.

Of course this bill, like all of the health care proposals recently debated by Congress, was instigated by, and created at the behest of, Barack Obama, who promised in his February joint address to Congress, “quality, affordable health care for every American.” That he could promise such a bauble while simultaneously vowing not to raise our taxes “one dime” betrays either a stunning economic ignorance – or deep mendacity.

Obama has clearly studied the greats, Lincoln and F.D.R. But he should also have made an examination of the less successful presidents, like George H. W. Bush, lest he repeat their mistakes and suffer their fate in political purgatory.

Written by Matt Patterson, policy analyst at the National Center for Public Policy Research. Write the author at [email protected]. As we occasionally reprint letters on the blog, please note if you prefer that your correspondence be kept private, or only published anonymously.

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