National Catholic Reporter

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How Easily Conservatives Forget

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George Will has a throw away line, actually a throw away parentheses, in his column today. In criticizing President Obama he refers to President George W. Bush as “The Great Alibi.”

Alas, in the world of conservative thought, or what passes for conservative thought, eight years of reckless government spending is best forgotten. President Obama does not have that luxury. He must clean up the mess he was left.

And what a mess it was. We Americans have short memories, so it is easy to forget the huge surpluses George W. Bush inherited when he took office. It is easy to forget the completely unfunded expansion of Medicare through the Prescription Drug Benefit. It is easy to forget the billions upon billions spent on the war in Iraq, none of it accounted for in Bush’s budgets because it was deemed “emergency spending.” It is easy to forget that if the obscene tax cuts for the wealthy had not been enacted, we would not be worrying about paying for health care today because there would be ample funds in the Treasury.

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There is ample room for debating the pros and cons of President Obama’s budget. But, this convenient forgetfulness among conservatives is ridiculous. True conservatives argue that history cannot be ignored and that we all must be responsible for the consequences of our actions. Bush escaped responsibility because he left office just as the roof was caving in and history was never his strong suit. (He thought he was Churchill after all!) But, what is George Will’s excuse?

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