This part of President Obama‘s Oval Office address was clearly aimed at Bush:
Unfortunately, over the last decade, we’ve not done what’s necessary to shore up the foundations of our own prosperity. We spent a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits.
But there’s no getting away from the fact that these statements apply equally to the first two years of the Obama administration.
If it hurts the economy to finance these huge war expenditures by borrowing, then why has Obama made exactly zero efforts to do anything about it? I don’t see how it’s a defense to say “But Bush started it!” Maybe, but Obama cheerfully continued it. As if there was no choice but to do so. And, of course, the whole point of that quote from his speech is that there was always a choice. There was a choice for Bush. And there was a choice for Obama. And Obama made the same choice as Bush. Even though he’s been criticizing Bush’s choice for the last three years.
I really think that Obama should have proposed a “Bush’s Wars” tax increase early in 2009. Perhaps a temporary increase, to be phased out as the wars wound down.
Clearly, the wars needed to be paid for. And there was no reason for Obama to take the political heat for this necessity. But it really shouldn’t have been too difficult — even for the hapless Democrats — to hang this fairly and squarely around Bush’s neck.
I’m not saying the Republicans — together with the elements of the Democratic Party who have proven time and again that they are easily intimidated by Republican rhetoric — would have actually allowed the tax increase to go through. But doesn’t Obama’s consistent rhetoric on the irresponsibility of funding these two wars by borrowing require that he should at least have tried?
And wouldn’t he have won politically even by losing?