Notes on the Atrocities Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...
Friday, June 04, 2004
Bush's Smaller Legacies
It isn't news that the decisions Bush and the GOP have made over the past four years may have severe consequences in the future--the costs of the tax cuts, the effects of the Medicare bill, and the foreign policy bind brought on by the Iraq invasion have all been discussed widely. Beyond direct effects, there are proximal effects as well.
This morning, NPR ran a story with this surprising statistic: one-third of all current home loans are adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM). A few months back, Alan Greenspan encouraged Americans to consider ARMs, which struck Fed shamans as odd--with interest rates at all-time lows and nowhere to go but down, why was the Greenspan encouraging homeowners to take on risky loans that were sure to go up?
It wasn't advice to benefit homebuyers, but the President. The only thing that's kept the economy alive for the past three years is the robust housing market. As even it appeared to be slowing, mortagage companies are doing the only thing they can to keep downward pressure on interest rates--offering back-loaded 4.25% ARMs to people who can't afford to make payments at 6%. What happens when they shoot up? Right--massive defaults and pop goes the housing market.
It's part of the administration's whole short-term approach to governance. Investing enormous resources into short-term gains has immediate political benefit, but puts the US in dangerous territory. Combine these decisions with a public/private campaign of misinformation and lies, and America is being suckered.
Another lurking issue is the draft. Although no law will be passed before the election--obviously--both houses of Congress are considering draft legislation. When Bush put us on the road to war, he lied about the reasons--we know that now--but he also lied about the costs, which are equally as destructive. He lied about immediate monetary costs, but he also lied about human costs. In building up a massive empire, the White House was creating the necessity for a draft--accurately guessing that such legislation wouldn't be necessary until a second Bush (or as it will likely happen, first Kerry) term.
Looking down the road--2006 or '07, say--many of the bills for the Bush presidency will be coming due. It is our shortsighted habit to blame the effects of decisions made years before on the guy who is in office when these things happen. But these messes will be Bush's enduring legacy, not the making of whomever has to bear the responsibility of cleaning up.