Bush’s Ambitious Goal
• His promise to restore traditional values had great appeal in the wake
of Clinton’s scandals.
• He wanted to avenge his father’s defeat by Clinton in 1992. ‘
• He wanted to restore traditional and religious values to the United
States, downsize the federal government, rebuild the military, and
transfer many programs from the federal government to the states.
• He wanted to achieve the realignment that Reagan had begun by
ushering in a Republican era that might last for decades.
The Presidential Campaign
Bush portrayed himself as a family man who could unite the nation.
He appealed to moderates by arguing that he was a compassionate conservative
who would support some increases in federal aid to education and a limited
prescription drugs plan for Medicare recipients even as he promised to cut taxes
substantially and to privatize Social Security by allowing workers to invest some of
their payroll tax funds in the stock market.
He appealed to Christian fundamentalists by supporting school prayer, promising
government assistance to faith-based organizations that helped addicts, welfare
mothers, and ex-prisoners, and opposing partial-birth abortions.
• He promised to initiate a voucher program for the public
schools that would allow some low-income students to
transfer to church-related or other private schools.
• He pledged to commit a substantial portion of the
multitrillion-dollar surplus that was projected for the next
decade to the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds, as
well as reducing the federal debt.
Bush’s Domestic Policies
• Different approaches emerged for reforming TANF when it was
scheduled to be reauthorized in 2002.
• If conservatives wanted to cut back federal funding for social
services and exempt even fewer women from the five-year limits,
liberals wanted to maintain or increase the federal funding while
exempting more women from these limits.
• Some liberals also wanted to provide re- sources to allow states
to place more emphasis on up- grading recipients’ job skills or in
helping them obtain high school diplomas or college degrees.
• The National Association of Social Workers wanted to upgrade
and stabilize the workforce employed by welfare agencies
since few line or supervising workers even possessed
bachelor’s degrees in the social sciences, much less in social
• Nor did they often possess skills to work with former recipients
as they coped with low wages and child care issues, as well as
help them gain access to safety net programs such as Medicaid
and Food Stamps. (Many former recipients failed to receive
benefits from these programs even when they were eligible for
• Due to partisan bickering, reauthorization of TANF by
Congress did not occur until spring, when relatively few
changes were made in the legislation.
September 11, 2001
• Everything changed when two hijacked commercial jet planes
slammed into and toppled the Twin Towers of the World Trade
Center in New York City on the morning of September 11,
• Another crashed into the Pentagon
• A fourth crashed in a Pennsylvania field after passengers
thwarted hijackers who wanted to hit either the White House or
the Capitol Building
• The nation was stunned by the magnitude of casualties as well
as the graphic images of the disaster portrayed on the mass
• Bush declared a war on global terrorism in the immediate
aftermath of September 11; this war was the focus of his
• He persuaded Congress to enact a war resolution that gave him
the authority to use military force not only to defeat the Taliban,
but to attack terrorist forces anywhere in the world as well as
nations that harbored them.
• He issued an ultimatum to the Taliban to turn over bin Laden or
• He assembled a broad coalition of nations to participate in possible
military action at a time when world opinion was overwhelmingly
supportive of the United States.
• When they refused, he ordered a massive bombing campaign in
Afghanistan that was quickly followed by the introduction of ground
• In liaison with forces of some other nations, the United States
quickly defeated the Taliban and installed a new regime, but the
elusive bin Laden escaped possibly due to miscues by American
military leaders who failed to seal the border between Afghanistan
the Agenda Abroad
Bush had decisively shifted the agenda from the economy and domestic
issues to Iraq.
• He barnstormed the United States in the months preceding the November
election, pledging to remove Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction if
Hussein did not remove them.
• He implied that Democrats were soft on terrorism because they held up the
enactment of the Homeland Security Agency.
• Bush’s and Republicans’ ratings in the polls moved upward, especially among
women, some elderly persons, and some blue-collar persons—the swing
voters that could tip the balance between the two parties.
• Bush’s shift in the national agenda from domestic issues and
the economy to Iraq and the establishment of the Homeland
Security Agency paid huge political dividends in the 2002
• If Democrats had even hoped to control both houses of
Congress, Republicans took back control of the Senate and
widened their majority in the House.
• Bush was in a commanding position to launch his bid for
reelection in 2004.
The War with Iraq
• Even though UN inspectors could not find weapons of mass
destruction, Bush insisted that Hussein’s refusal to make a full
accounting of his weapons meant that he possessed them.
• He alleged in his State of the Union address in January 2003 that
British intelligence had discovered that Iraq had sought to obtain
uranium from Niger, an African nation.
• Both he and Powell contended links existed between Hussein and AlQaeda, but neither of them produced definitive proof.
• The nation required huge expenditures on infrastructure and social
programs; some experts believed the United States would have to
keep about 150,000 troops in Iraq indefinitely at a cost of roughly $4
billion per month.
• It was unclear in the spring of 2004 when and how the United States
would establish a new Iraqi government.
• Critics contended that United States officials had greatly
underestimated the unrest that would occur in Iraq, as well as the
number of troops needed to maintain order.
American Social Welfare
• The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq raise broader issues about
America’s role in developing nations.
• Can a wealthy nation, with a reluctant welfare state at home,
respond constructively to poverty and disease outside of its
• The United States had not been generous to developing nations,
allocating far less of its federal budget to foreign aid than many
other industrialized nations.
• (The United States gives only 0.10 percent of its GDP to
developing nations, while Denmark gives 1.06 per- cent,
Britain gives 0.32 per cent, and Japan gives 0.28 percent.)
• World poverty is staggering in its dimensions: If 1.2
billion people (or 23 percent of the global population)
around the world live on less than a dollar a day, 2.8
billion survive on less than $2 a day.
• In the absence of strong public health institutions,
diseases like malaria, typhoid fever, and AIDS
devastated the health of citizens in developing nations.
• Nor could these nations afford expensive medications
and diagnostic equipment widely used in industrial
Bush’s Domestic Agenda
in 2003 and 2004
Even before the United States had invaded Iraq in the spring of 2003,
Bush returned to his domestic agenda
The combined costs of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid could rise,
then, from 41 percent of the budget in 2000 to 66 percent of GDP in 2030
—displacing other programs in the current federal budget.
Boomers’ needs will compete with the 75 million members of Generation
X (born between 1965 and 1985) and the projected 75 million members of
Generation Y (born between 1986 and 2006).
Members of Generations X and Y will require large increases for social
services, education, and health programs, not to mention greater
investments in the nation’s infrastructure.
• Many liberals, as well as some conservatives, feared that the nation was
heading for a grim scenario.
• They feared that programs funded by the federal discretionary portion of
the budget might be slashed since block grant programs, housing
subsidies, roads, airports, the environment, the federal park service,
public health, mental health, child welfare, and education programs—
currently about 15 percent of the federal budget—are relatively small
and lack the political clout of entitlements and military programs.
• They feared that means-tested entitlements for the poor could be
slashed including the Earned Income Tax Credit, Food Stamps, and
Supplementary Security Income (SSI)
the 2004 Elections
• Republicans won a narrow victory in the elections
• Relying heavily on the argument that he could
best safeguard the nation from terrorism,
President Bush persuaded many independent
and moderate voters to vote for him, while
retaining the allegiance of persons with relatively
strong religious affiliations.
• Enough citizens were sufficiently worried about
national security against terrorism that Bush
easily defeated John Kerry.
• Republicans retained, moreover, their strong majority in the House,
while gaining a narrow majority in the Senate. This margin of victory was
not sufficient, however, for President Bush to enact many policies that
he favored—leading to a policy stalemate in 2005 and 2006.
• He was unable to get his Social Security or Medicare reforms enacted to
make them attuned to his free-market ideology, such as converting
Social Security to a system of private investment accounts or enacting a
system of medical savings accounts to allow persons to self-finance their
health care costs rather than relying on Medicare.
The Botched Response
to Hurricane Katrina
• The failure of government officials to respond humanely to these
stranded persons of color was televised to the nation and the world for
days following Katrina.
• Viewers saw them on freeways and rooftops begging for water for days
after the disaster.
• They saw them living in scandalous conditions without food, water, or
operating restrooms at the Superdome.
• They saw President Bush remaining at his ranch for two days after the
catastrophe and then praising Michael Brown of FEMA for his “excellent
• They heard that Brown did not even know in Katrina’s immediate
aftermath that more than 10,000 stranded people were living in the
The Failure of a Free-Market
Reconstruction of New Orleans
and the Gulf Coast
• The toll of this inept reconstruction, however, was most heavy on lowincome African Americans.
• Citizens of the lower Ninth Ward were put in a state of limbo with
officials saying it would be reconstructed, or that it would remain
unsafe from future hurricanes.
• The federal government failed to build large amounts of afford able
housing or public housing in New Orleans—and failed to rehabilitate
many units of public housing.
• It even sold or rented many of these units to relatively affluent people.
It failed sufficiently to subsidize the ruined public system of health care,
which meant that poor residents often lacked access to health care.
• Remarkably, the government did not hire low- income residents to
clear rubble or reconstruct the city.
• Rather, they encouraged construction companies to rely on as
many 100,000 immigrants (primarily from Mexico) for labor. These
immigrants were ruthlessly exploited.
• They often worked in toxic environments because the Bush
administration relaxed protections normally offered by the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
• Many received meager pay because Louisiana was one of few
states without a minimum wage law. They lived in motels with as
many as 10 people in a room.
• Many of them were not even paid because the Department of
Labor failed to monitor and enforce federal work requirements.
Moving toward the Pivotal
• It seemed in the fall of 2007 that the Democrats were
more in tune with adverse public opinion about the Iraq
War than were Republicans.
• For the first time in American history, a woman and an
African American had a real chance to become president.
• Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton, the former First
Lady and now U.S. senator from New York, and Barack
Obama, a U.S. senator from Illinois, were the frontrunners
in polls and fundraising in the fall of 2007
in the Bush Administration
• To Bush’s credit, he did markedly increase federal spending
for education and include important tax con- cessions in his
tax legislation for some low-income Americans during his two
terms in office.
• He also vastly increased American funding of programs to
prevent HIV/AIDS and to help its victims in Africa and other
• Funding for drugs was finally placed in the Medicare Program.
• A serious debate had begun about how to improve the
education of American youth in the wake of implementation
of No Child Left Behind.
• However, Bush’s domestic accomplishments were very
minimal, considering that he occupied the White House for
• He will be most remembered for his controversial foreign
• His conservative coalition was fraying in 2008.
• It remained to be seen if liberals, who had made a major
comeback in the elections of 2006, would reemerge into a
position of political and policy prominence in the coming