Murray Tucker, Ph.D.: Bush's 1st 100 days


For the past hundred days, we news junkies have been saturated with cable news, Sunday talk shows and the news in general based on what will and did happen during the first hundred days of the new administration. I am not going to recount the achievements or lack thereof. As far as I'm concerned, I'm at day 101, and day 100 is dead.

But it may be useful from a historical perspective to look at the first 100 days of the prior administration in 2001. Promising fiscal restraint, the new group pushed a $1.2 trillion tax cut. The Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O'Neill, counseled that the basis for that cut was an ethereal $5 trillion surplus that might dwindle, substantially, if the economy faltered, contributing to renewing deficit spending, and that tax cuts have a serious lag effect that might produce inflation if the economy that was showing signs of recession, turned around before the cuts took effect. Ultimately, a tax cut that cannot be called back could cause inflation or increase the debt.

Candidate Bush saw that global warming was an important issue that led his EPA secretary, Christine Whitman, to boast that the U.S. would support much of the Kyoto Protocol. No sooner did she return from a meeting in Europe than the stone-faced Bush gave her a memo, ostensibly written by Dick Cheney, that pulled the rug from under her and left her dangling in the wind.

Candidate Bush claimed that his administration "will not engage in nation building." Ten days into office, the National Security Council began to develop plans to overthrow Saddam Hussein and create a democratic nation state in Iraq, despite the protests of his Secretary of State, Colin Powell.

These are the issues that occupied President George W. Bush during his first 100 days in office. I would like to say occupied, but that is probably beyond Bush's pay grade. Judging from the candid review of his experience in that administration, Paul O'Neill provides clear insight into the president's thought process, or rather the lack thereof. In Ron Suskind's book "The Price of Loyalty," O'Neill relates that no one inside or outside the government - here or across the globe - had heard the president analyze a complex issue, parse opposing positions and settle on a judicious path.

Whitman and O'Neill left the administration. Powell, the dutiful military man, remained to suffer the indignity of a UN speech claiming that Saddam had identifiable WMDs.

Murray Tucker, Ph.D.

Steamboat Springs


BoatNative 6 years, 4 months ago

I can not imagine what a McCain 100 days column would look like. Let's be proud that is not a reality, Murray.


Tim Scannell 6 years, 4 months ago

Don't let a few facts get in the way of a good opinion: "Promising fiscal restraint, the new group pushed a $1.2 trillion tax cut" - Fact: Federal tax revenues increased during the Bush administration from $2.4 Trillion in 2000 to $2.5 Trillion in 2008

At some point you need to deal with today and tomorrow and let go of your obsession with Bush. Do you think he caused Swine Flu also?


ybul 6 years, 4 months ago

Goes to show how similar both parties are. Nation building, Obama wants to help out Darfur in its civil war.

Bush did much wrong, but lets not pull the wool over our eyes and assume that Obama can do no wrong. He can and without thoughtful consideration of the policies, we could end up with as many bad policies as Bush gave us.


Murray Tucker 6 years, 4 months ago

Hey Tscan. $.1 trillion increase on a base of $2.4 trillion over eight years is little more than 4% or 0.5% a year. Not much, and I suspect revenues for 2009 will actually be less than they were for 2000.


JLM 6 years, 3 months ago

Actually, the real facts are:

FY 2000 total Fed receipts - $2,112,755MM FY 2007 total Fed receipts - $2,709,798MM

Tax cuts delivered the Fed receipts an increase as promised. Not a bad little increase either!

Obama may actually deliver a DEFICIT in the next year equal to the entire Federal receipts for an entire year. Surely in excess of 10% of GDP.

Of course, I have not taken into account the oil change revenue from Joe Biden, Mr Goodwrench, and his warranty work. LOL

Obama has made a huge bet on "RED" and the wheel is going to stop spinning in 9 months and then we shall know whether it worked. The initial signs are not encouraging.


Tim Scannell 6 years, 3 months ago

Murray. I am no PHD like you, so I may be missing your point. I have been a CPA for 24 years working with business owners and individuals who pay taxes. You claim in you opinion piece that a $1.2 Trillion tax cut was enacted. You are either misinformed or lying to make your point.

President Bush and our elected representatives expanded the federal budget by a historic $700 Billion through 2008. Senator Obama voted for all of those budget deficits during the 2 years he was representing my home state of Illinois. He did not inherit the problem he was part of the problem. In just 100 days, President Obama has proposed to add another $1 Trillion to the deficit. After harshly criticizing President Bush's budget deficits that averaged $300 Billion annually, President Obama has proposed deficits averaging $600 Billion annually.

Most frustrating is the disconnect between President Obama's call for a pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) law and then offering a budget that violates that rule by $3.4 Trillion over 10 years.


Tim Scannell 6 years, 3 months ago

I did misread your letter and apologize for that.


Murray Tucker 6 years, 3 months ago

Tscan. Remember I am writing about the first 100 days, not what actually came to pass. The reference is pp.106ff of Ron Suskind's book, drawn from first Treasury Secretary under President Bush, Paul O'Neill's notes, "The Price of Loyalty." The Congressional Budget Office had projected a $5.6 trillion surplus over the ten years 2001-2010. Because of the nature of the debt, $2.4 trillion was pay back to Social Security Trust Fund leaving $3.2 trillion. But only $2 trillion was in debt of ten years or less leaving $1.2 trillion beyond the projected requirement for debt reduction. The thought process was, "Those funds are outside the ten year look forward, may as well give them back to the people." The problem was that there was a $700 billion miscalculation. The actual 'give back' to promise was $500 billion and that was the number both parties eventually agreed to.

The speech writers (Rove and Hughes) placed the $1.2 trillion in the State of the Union speech.

Perhaps I did not make the point that Bush Administration operated from seat of the pants, back of envelope reasoning. Whether you agree or disagree with Obama's budget policy, it has been well considered.

I apologize if you read into what I wrote that the $1.2 trillion was enacted.


Fred Duckels 6 years, 3 months ago

Comparing Bush and O is not reasonable at this time. Lets come back years from now and give O his grade. I hope that this fuzzy math works, but we are all spending beyond our means.


JustSomeJoe 6 years, 3 months ago

Fred - how would you have approached the your first 100 days if you were elected president instead of Obama? You inherit two wars, massive unemployment, management of a $700B bank give-away with no strings attached by your predecessor, further signs of a deteriorating financial system, major rust belt employers like GM and Chrysler about to go belly up and leave hundreds of thousands more unemployed, likely a million when you count dealerships and the supply chain, massive deficit, etc...

I get the sense that you would "starve this fever", but don't want to assume that. What would your steps have been?


Tim Scannell 6 years, 3 months ago

Joe. Do you realize that Senator Obama voted for every budget and funding bill that was passed by the Senate during the 2 years he was there? He voted for the bailout that you reference in your note. To say he inherited the mess is to deny he had a part in creating it. Maybe he was out to lunch for two years?


ybul 6 years, 3 months ago


Throwing good money after bad is not going to solve anything.  The stimulus money is being thrown at pet projects that will NOT increase revenues in the future.  More of the money should have been given as start up capital to for small business'.  Either as grants of low interest rate loans.

 New money should be invested in areas that are going to grow the economy.  The economy is in transition and we are simply throwing money at what has worked in the past.  What worked in the past probably wont work in the future.

JLM 6 years, 3 months ago

I am so sick and tired of listening to this nonsense about Pres Bush, etc.

Sen Obama was in the Senate for the last two years while the Democrats had control of the Congress and he had two years to consider whether he wanted the damn job.

Sen Obama voted for the TARP and the rest of it is his handiwork. Stop whining and get to governing.

He can't keep his own campaign promises. That's between him and him.

Please act like you won the damn election and stop campaigning and blaming everything on Pres Bush --- STFU already!

We are going to have enough problems with Bank Obama and Obama Motors that we will wish Pres Bush could run again by the time this nonsense is over.

Well, I guess we could draft Jeb? LOL

BTW, did you notice that the AIG bonuses are now up to $450MM! I guess Obama will have to stage another hissy fit soon, eh?

What a phoney!


Fred Duckels 6 years, 3 months ago

JSJoe, First I would not be the micromanager in chief. I would let the car companies go into bankruptcy immediately. O is spending billions to appease his boss, the UAW. When OUAW motors emerges I will not buy a car built on blood money. Next, I would stimulate the economy but not fund a 50 yr. backlog of liberal dependency. I would leave our intelligence apparatus alone, Guantanamo included, why spend all this money to appease Jeanine Garafalo. I would suspend torture as soon as we stop abortions. Frankly Joe, we have become such an entitlement society, that unless we address that, we have a very bleak future. I have heard Al Gore on warming, where was he when he was in office, must have been under the desk with Monica. The carbon fuel transition is within reach but not with the sophomoric politization that the community organizer proposes. And next I would hire my daughter to produce the photos of AF1, and not use nonsense worthy of the three stooges.


JustSomeJoe 6 years, 3 months ago

Wow, where to start. The Fred and JLM arguments are really over-whelming, oops, under-whelming I mean. It's too bad you can't particapte in a civil discourse and stoop to sexual innuendos and curse words.

Really the only point that was made in response to my post was Fred saying he would have let the car manufacturers fail. I think it was a pretty wise move considering the state of the domestic and international econmony at that point. $17B was a pittance to calm the market and keep over a million people in the rust belt employed at that time. Both GM and Chrysler will go into orderly bankruptcy now and there won't be a panic associated with it.

Frankly nothing else you said was worth a response.


JLM 6 years, 3 months ago

Joey, babe, when you run out of brain cells, well, you run out of things to say. Take a rest and regroup and let the adults talk for a bit.

The entire saga w/ the car companies is completely about the UAW, payback by Obama, the role the UAW played in his election and nothing else.

The UAW's absurd demands bankrupted these companies and now the government is intervening to violate simple bond covenants calling the rightful owners of those important rights --- speculators --- all just to deliver a majority ownership to the UAW.

The sad thing is that the UAW will not be able to make a success of it even if they get 100% ownership. The government will be bailing GM out until they finally have to put them down once and for all.

Obama Motors will ultimately fail. Darwin was right. Amateur hour will not last much longer.


JustSomeJoe 6 years, 3 months ago

Hey JLM - Like I said, once again nothing really to respond to there. All fantastical generalizations, no meat on the bone. Why don't you head back to the coffee shop and stew?

Maybe you can pull out the thesaurus soon and give us some new gems to replace naif, fakir and poseur?


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