The Washington Post
today published an extensive interview with President Bush conducted aboard Air Force One
, and it provoked all kinds of reactions, ranging from happiness to outrage. As a helpful guide to this very long post, I'll label each main point with a "Yay" or "Boo."Boo: The Post
reports that Bush said "there was no reason to hold any administration officials accountable for mistakes or misjudgments in prewar planning or managing the violent aftermath." As Bush said, "We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections."
So after a 3-percentage-point win, Bush apparently believes he has the complete, undying, irreversible support of the American public and therefore doesn't need to take his advisers to task, no matter what a terrible job they've done
. Simply outrageous.Yay:
Bush said he won't push Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, at least as long as the Defense of Marriage Act is on the books. As I said shortly after the election
, gay-baiting is an effective campaign tool for social conservatives, and a constitutional gay-marriage ban would make it much more difficult for them to keep scapegoating gay people.
I also suspect Bush really doesn't care what people do in the bedroom and that he just used gay marriage as a way to get votes in November. Regardless, he's to be commended for resisting the pressure to enshrine discrimination in the Constitution
Bush's answer to a question about why Osama bin Laden hasn't been found yet? "Because he's hiding." Well, that's certainly a good punch line to an elementary-school joke, but I doubt it's very comforting to the families of the 3,000 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Remind me again why the administration sent 150,000 troops to scour the deserts of Iraq instead of the mountains of Afghanistan.Yay:
Bush said he doesn't plan to make any changes to Social Security disability or survivor benefits. "Frankly, our discussions in terms of reform have not centered on the survivor-disability aspect of Social Security," he said. Good.Boo:
Bush intends to go full speed ahead in pushing to allow younger workers to divert part of their Social Security payroll taxes into private accounts. I give this one a "Boo" with some reservations, since I still haven't seen the specifics of the plan. I'm also very sympathetic to the principle underlying this proposal: making people more personally responsible for their retirements.
Still, the realities of the situation make this a bad idea. As many economic analysts have noted, Social Security will still be able to pay full benefits until at least 2042
and about 75 percent of benefits after that, so the "crisis" is nowhere near as alarming or urgent as some folks would lead you to believe.
Since our Social Security payroll taxes are spent immediately to pay current recipients' benefits instead of being set aside for our retirement, the creation of private accounts would force the federal government to borrow billions of dollars to make up for that lost revenue. Also, who would ensure that the diverted payroll taxes actually go into retirement investments? Sounds like we would need yet another expensive layer of government bureaucracy to oversee the process. I'm not a fan of going into debt or adding bureaucracy unnecessarily.
There are plenty of suggestions for shoring up Social Security without privatization, including raising the cap on income subject to Social Security taxes, which now sits at $90,000. If we're going to worry about a huge government entitlement program teetering imminently on the edge of insolvency, there's always Medicare
Bush said he knows many traditional U.S. allies opposed the Iraq war, and he said he will send newly appointed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on a worldwide diplomacy tour to "[explain] our motives and [explain] our intentions." I'm not very confident that the tour will get results, but at least Bush is saying the right things when it comes to trying to mend fences.Boo:
Bush said it was good to force the District of Columbia to spend $11.9 million of its homeland security money on security for his inauguration and the related parties
instead of having the federal government pick up the tab. "I think it provides [the inauguration attendees] great comfort to know that all levels of government are working closely to make this event as secure as possible," Bush said.
Well, as long as someone
is paying for your awesome parties.