From Publishers Weekly
Liberal commentators gripe so frequently about the current administration that it's become easy to tune them out, but when Bartlett, a former member of the Reagan White House, says George W. Bush has betrayed the conservative movement, his conservative credentials command attention. Bartlett's attack boils down to one key premise: Bush is a shallow opportunist who has cast aside the principles of the "Reagan Revolution" for short-term political gains that may wind up hurting the American economy as badly as, if not worse than, Nixon's did. As part of a simple, point-by-point critique of Bush's "finger-in-the-wind" approach to economic leadership, Bartlett singles out the Medicare prescription drug bill of 2003— "the worst piece of legislation ever enacted"—as a particularly egregious example of the increases in government spending that will, he says, make tax hikes inevitable. Bush has further weakened the Republican Party by failing to establish a successor who can run in the next election, Bartlett says. If the Reaganites want to restore the party's tradition of fiscal conservatism and small government, he worries, let alone keep the Democrats out of the White House, they will have their work cut out for them. (Feb.)
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Bartlett, an economist and former Reagan administration official, attacks the Bush administration hard but from the political Right. Challenging Bush's conservative principles of operation and credentials, Bartlett actually gives former president Clinton more credit for following conservative economic principles. In contrast, the Bush administration has been marked by shortsightedness, if not anti--intellectualism, too willing to reward friends without regard to competency and to punish as enemies those who deviate from the party line. Bush's shortcomings include his drug bill, trade policies, and expanded regulatory requirements. Interestingly, Bartlett concludes that Bush's relentless effort to cut taxes will leave an unenviable legacy for a conservative--the need for America's largest tax increase. Bartlett also takes the administration to task for corruption that violates the principles of difference the Republican Party declared during the campaign against Clinton. This is a worthy critique, one that the administration will not be able to dismiss as liberal propaganda. Vernon Ford
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