A BuzzFlash Reader Commentary
July 23, 2002
Fuzzy Math Revisited
The following is an excerpt from the first Gore-Bush debate. The moderator, Jim Lehrer, asked about the candidates' attitude concerning the government's management of economic crises. At the time, nobody commented on the absolute inept incoherence of Bush's answer (with the exception of Slate's "bushisms"). However, his lame ramblings were a harbinger of things to come.
As a result of this exchange, Gore was branded a liar for forgetting exactly which wildfires he visited with whom and when. In retrospect, it is obvious who the real prevaricator was (and still is). It is also obvious who the real practitioner of "fuzzy math" was. Finally, it is obvious that the Supreme Court not only stole the election, but also the future economic well-being of all Americans.
From the Bush-Gore debate Oct 3, 2000:
LEHRER: The stock market could take a tumble. There could be a failure of a major financial institution. What is your general attitude toward government intervention in such events?
BUSH: Well, it depends, obviously. But what I would do, first and foremost, is I would get in touch with the Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, to find out all the facts and all the circumstances. I would have my secretary of treasury be in touch with the financial centers, not only here, but at home. I would make sure that key members of Congress were called in to discuss the gravity of the situation. And I would come up with a game plan to deal with it.
That's what governors end up doing. We end up being problem- solvers. We come up with practical, common-sense solutions for problems that we're confronted with.
And, in this case, in case of a financial crisis, I would gather all the facts before I made the decision as to what the government ought or ought not to do.
LEHRER: Vice President Gore?
GORE: Yes, first, I want to compliment the governor on his response to those fires and floods in Texas. I accompanied James Lee Witt down to Texas when those fires broke out.
GORE: And FEMA has been a major flagship project of our reinventing government efforts. And I agree, it works extremely well now.
On the international financial crises that come up, my friend, Bob Rubin, former secretary of treasury is here. He's a very close adviser to me and a great friend in all respects. I have had a chance to work with him and Alan Greenspan and others on the crisis following the collapse of the Mexican peso, when the Asian financial crisis raised the risk of worldwide recession that could affect our economy, and starting -- and now, of course, the euro's value has been dropping, but seems to be under control.
But it started for me -- in the last eight years -- when I had the honor of casting the tie-breaking vote to end the old economic plan here at home and put into place a new economic plan that has helped us to make some progress -- 22 million new jobs and the greatest prosperity ever. But it's not good enough. And my attitude is, you ain't seen nothing yet. We need to do more and better.
LEHRER: So, Governor, would you agree there is no basic difference here on intervening -- federal government intervening in what might be seen by others to be a private financial crisis, if it's that...
BUSH: No, there's no difference on that. There is a difference, though, as to what the economy has meant. I think the economy has meant more for the Gore and Clinton folks than the Gore and Clinton folks has meant for the economy.
BUSH: I think most of the economic growth that has taken place is a result of ingenuity and hard work and entrepreneurship. And that's the role of government, is to encourage that.
But in terms of the response to the question, no.
GORE: Can I comment on that?
LEHRER: You may.
GORE: See, you know, I think that the American people deserve credit for the great economy that we have. And it's their ingenuity. I agree with that.
But, you know, they were working pretty hard eight years ago, and they had ingenuity eight years ago. The difference is, we've got a new policy, and instead of concentrating on tax cuts mostly for the wealthy, we want -- I want tax cuts for the middle class families, and I want to continue the prosperity and make sure that it enriches not just the few, but all of our families.
Look, we have gone from the biggest deficits to the biggest surpluses; we've gone from a triple-dip recession during the previous 12 years to a tripling of the stock market. Instead of high unemployment, we've got the lowest African-American and lowest Latino unemployment rates ever in history, and 22 million new jobs.
But it's not good enough. Too many people have been left behind. We have got to do much more. And the key is job training, education, investments in health care and education, the environment, retirement security.
And, incidentally, we have got to preserve Social Security. And I am totally opposed to diverting one out of every six dollars away from the Social Security trust fund, as the governor has proposed, into the stock market.
I want new incentives for savings and investment for the young couples who are working hard, so they can save and invest on their own on top of Social Security, not at the expense of Social Security, as the governor proposes.
BUSH: Two points: One, a lot of folks are still waiting for that 1992 middle class tax cut. I remember the vice president saying, "Just give us a chance to get up there, we're going to make sure you get tax cuts." It didn't happen. And now he's having to say it again. It's -- they've had their chance to deliver a tax cut to you.
Secondly, the surest way to bust this economy is to increase the role and the size of the federal government. The Senate Budget Committee did a study of the vice president's expenditures. They projected it could conceivably bust the budget by $900 billion. That means he's either going to have to raise your taxes by $900 billion or go into the Social Security surplus for $900 billion.
This is a plan that is going to increase the bureaucracy by 20,000 people. His targeted tax cut is so detailed, so much fine print, that it's going to require numerous IRS agents.
No, we need somebody to simplify the code, to be fair, to continue prosperity by sharing some of the surplus with the people who pay the bills, particularly those at the bottom end of the economic ladder.
GORE: If I could respond, Jim, what he's quoting is not the Senate Budget Committee, it is a partisan press release by the Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee that's not worth the government -- the taxpayer-paid paper that it's printed on.
GORE: Now, as for 20,000 new bureaucrats, as you call them, you know the size of the federal government will go down in a Gore administration. In the Reinventing Government Program, you just look at the numbers. It is 300,000 people smaller today than it was eight years ago.
Now, the fact is you're going to have a hard time convincing folks that we were a whole lot better off eight years ago than we are today. But that's not the question. The question is, will we be better off four years from now than we are today?
And as for the surest way to threaten our prosperity, having a $1.9 trillion tax cut, almost half of which goes to the wealthy, and a $1 trillion Social Security privatization proposal, is the surest way to put our budget into deficit, raise interest rates and put our prosperity at risk.
BUSH: I can't let the man -- I can't let the man continue with fuzzy math. It's $1.3 trillion, Mr. Vice President. It's going to go to everybody who pays taxes. I'm not going to be one of these kinds of presidents that says, "You get tax relief and you don't." I'm not going to be a pick-and-chooser.
BUSH: What is fair is everybody who pays taxes ought to get relief.
LEHRER: I thought we cleared this up a while ago.
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