KE Cellars

What do you expect from the next president?

Click here to listen to the You Tell Me segment broadcast on Friday, Dec. 28, 2007 on Newstalk 600 KTBB.

My wife has more than a few liberal friends. She was on the phone with one named Doris that lives in Florida the other day and the subject of investments came up. Doris opined that she was certain that her investments would do better as soon as Bush is out of office.

Memo to Doris. This economic environment is about as good as it gets. Since cratering following the attacks of 9/11, the Dow has gone up by more than 51 percent. Since the Bush tax cuts went into effect, unemployment has been at historic lows, effectively a full employment economy. Since January 2002, the economy has created eight and a half million jobs, the best performance under any presidential administration in history. American productivity is up. The federal budget deficit is at half of what was projected just 24 months ago. That despite the huge costs of prosecuting a war. Economically speaking, these are the good times, Doris. You should be making hay while the sun shines.

But Doris’ comment reflects a troubling reality. It reflects a widespread belief that it is the government’s job to see to it that we do OK. Rather than actively engage in managing her investment portfolio, whatever it may be, Doris wants to pull a voting machine lever and select someone who will somehow do it for her. The same mentality prevails when it comes to health care, retirement and housing. Elect the right person to the office of president, and all these things will be taken care of for us.

Thank you New Deal and Great Society.

The founding fathers would be absolutely astounded to find out that we think the president should have so much impact on our lives. Their purpose in defining the office of the president, together with the rest of the federal government, was specifically to keep the government out of our lives.

The founding fathers recognized that government is, by its nature, coercive. Government can seize wealth and property, calling it taxation. Government can limit freedom, calling it regulation. Left to its own nature, government will increase in size and expand in scope.

That’s why we have the system we have. Not so that Doris’s investments will do better with a change of occupant in the White House.

So what do I expect from the next president?

My list is rather short.

I expect the next president to finish the job in Iraq. Yes, things went badly for a couple of years. But it is the history of war that things go badly until victory is achieved. Bush’s willingness to change the leadership in theater has brought about a dramatic reversal of fortune. If we press our advantage and keep the momentum into the next administration, we have a very real shot at establishing a free society that is friendly to the U.S. in the very heart of the Middle East where tyranny, mass murder and hatred of the west once ruled.

My second item is related to the first. I expect the next president to maintain the Bush Doctrine when it comes to international terrorism. Until 9/11, our policy was to react to terrorist events, treating them in much the same way that big city police departments treat armed robbery and murder. After the fact. The Bush Doctrine sets forth that we will use intelligence, diplomacy and military force, in whatever mixture necessary, to pre-empt terror strikes before they can unfold and kill Americans on our own soil.

The last item on my list concerns the president’s bully pulpit. I expect better use of it. American history has shown that the Congress requires adult supervision. Constitutionally, that adult is the president. I expect the next president to do a better job than President Bush did in using his or her power of the pulpit to hold the Congress accountable. We need to reign in spending. We desperately need to find the courage to address the looming disaster of Social Security and Medicare. President Bush tried, but in the end he was not persuasive. The next president needs to be or we are heading for a train wreck. While we’re at it, the next president needs to press the Congress to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. Remember all that earlier in this piece about employment and productivity and the health of the stock market? The Bush tax cuts are a huge factor in all of that good news. They need to not expire in 2010.

See, I told you it was a short list. And Doris’s investments aren’t on it.


  1. Brian Eggerman says:

    The Bush Doctrine? Is this the doctrine of attacking other nations without cause or provocation? Can you imagine what Adolf Hitler would think of his doctrine being given someone else’s name? He would be turning somersaults in hell, which would put Ronald Reagan in danger of being kicked in the head.

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