April 5, 2001
Bush Sets a New Course
Though it is too early to judge the success of an administration, President Bush is headed in the right direction on many fronts. It is hoped that his leadership will have lasting effects in many areas.
Most importantly, he has, as promised, set a new tone of civility in Washington. It was pleasant to watch a presidential news conference the other day that was not focused on foibles but on policies affecting Americans. The simple matter of being on time for meetings and being courteous to others has brought plaudits from both sides of the aisle. Our representatives, though they may have policy disagreements, at least are engaging each other now in a respectful manner.
Bush has aggressively attempted to right an economy that went off course last year. Alan Greenspan's misguided maneuvers in the monetary policy area have had serious negative effects on our economy. Though the government has less ability to correct economic course than some believe, the Bush Administration is at least making an attempt.
First, it has decided to curb the outrageous increases in governmental domestic spending. When domestic spending exceeds the inflation rate by a factor of two, it denies the right of average citizens to spend those monies in their own manner.
Second, it has attempted to correct a misguided tax code and overtaxation. Bush's main goal of overall rate reduction is still on course. Congress is looking at three other areas of the tax code that are blatantly unfair. The marriage penalty, estate tax, and phaseout of itemized deductions and personal exemptions have been targeted for elimination. In addition, the onerous and incomprehensible alternative minimum tax has been ticketed for the trash can of history.
President Bush has also moved forward on a proposal that he and Vice-President Gore campaigned on -- the so-called faith-based initiative. Though the Jewish left has often anguished over any governmental recognition that religion exists, the reality is beginning to shift for most other Americans. People have begun to realize that a lot of the programs that exist either do not work or espouse their own religion of secularism. We have to make a choice as to whether we want to heal the people who are in need of these programs.
Turning to the foreign front, the Bush Administration has re-established that the United States is no patsy. China has become aware that it cannot make this administration roll over, as it did the last one.
Most important to Jewish Americans, Israel is once again in good hands. After the disaster that occurred during the last administration, Bush has made two clear points. First, he will not intercede in the peace process -- he will act only as a catalyst. He will not force down the throat of the Israelis a settlement that jeopardizes their long-term future. Second, the violence is the responsibility of Arafat and the Palestinians, and Arafat must put a stop to it if peace is to be achieved. No longer will the Jewish people's homeland be at risk because of someone's seeking a political legacy.
Bush has come under attack for his rejection of two environmental policies that should concern us all, but let us look at the facts. First, no one wants an unacceptable level of arsenic in drinking water. If the policy that was put in place was of such magnitude, why did the Clinton Administration sneak it in without going through the normal channels? Since no one has answered that question for me, the answer becomes clear: The policy needs review, and that is all Bush has said.
Second, regarding the policy on CO2 emissions and the Kyoto agreement, there is no question that this agreement is disproportionately detrimental to the United States. But is it scientifically sound? The answer to that is no. Dr. Peter Huber in his recent book "Hard Green" stated clearly that the United States is not the problem in the area of international CO2 emissions. No one to my knowledge has refuted his analysis of the situation. More important, he identifies the true problem areas -- the underdeveloped countries -- and the new economies, such as China.
The fact is, Bush stood up to knee-jerk environmentalism that could have cost the citizens of the United States, without the results we all seek. That took leadership.
George W. Bush has begun to accomplish the goals he outlined in his campaign. He has done it in a straightforward and congenial manner. My hope is that he stays the course on his policies, to give them a chance and to let us all see whether our trust in him is warranted. I believe it will be.