NYT: The Whole Truth and Nothing Bu http://mobile.nytimes.com/2011/09/07/opinion/friedman-the-whole-truth-and-nothing-but.xml
Why has this been a lost decade? An answer can be found in one simple comparison: How Dwight Eisenhower and his successors used the cold war and how George W. Bush used 9/11. America had to face down the Russians in the cold war. America had to respond to 9/11 and the threat of Al Qaeda. But the critical difference between the two was this: Beginning with Eisenhower and continuing to some degree with every cold war president, we used the cold war and the Russian threat as a reason and motivator to do big, hard things together at home -to do nation-building in America. We used it to build the interstate highway system, put a man on the moon, push out the boundaries of science, teach new languages, maintain fiscal discipline and, when needed, raise taxes. We won the cold war with collective action.
George W. Bush did the opposite. He used 9/ 11 as an excuse to lower taxes, to start two wars that -for the first time in our history -were not paid for by tax increases, and to create a costly new entitlement in Medicare prescription drugs. Imagine where we’d be today if on the morning of 9/12 Bush had announced (as some of us advocated) a “Patriot Tax” of $1 per gallon of gas to pay for education, infrastructure and government research, to help finance our wars and to slash our dependence on Middle East oil. Gasoline in the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, averaged $1.66 a gallon.
But rather than use 9/11 to summon us to nation-building at home, Bush used it as an excuse to party -to double down on a radical tax-cutting agenda for the rich that not only did not spur rising living standards for most Americans but has now left us with a huge ball and chain around our ankle.
And there you have it. If you don’t know our debt issues are intimately tied to our response to 9/11 and George W. Bush, you haven’t been paying attention or don’t understand how math works.