Failed Bush admin initiatives

Hopefully this can remain in GQ.

As Bush’s presidency draws to a close, it seems to be he’s been a successful president – by which I mean that in general, he has gotten Congress to enact what he asked for. (Obviously, to what extent those were wise or salubrious choices for the country is a matter for GD or the Pit; I refer to “success” here only in the limited, factual sense of getting what he wanted).

Where did he fail? On what major initiatives in the past eight-ish years did Bush fall down, fail to get Congress to do what he wanted?

Social security privatization comes to mind. What else?

Immigration Reform.

The Clear Skies Initiative failed in Congress.

Constitutional Amendment Protecting Marriage was not enacted.

A number of judicial nominees. Miguel “I have no opinion on any past Supreme Court cases because I wasn’t there at the time and didn’t read the briefs” Estrada comes to mind, as does Harriet Miers. Or, to the extent you can counter a list of failed nominations with a list of successful nominations, I’d say that the Senate did not allow Bush the leeway to effectuate as broad a scope of judicial nominations as he wanted, both in terms of absolute numbers and in terms of consistent judicial philosophy. Bush wanted to emulate Reagan by seeding the lower federal courts with judges who would thoroughly reshape the judicial activist excesses of past years (we can argue about the definition of activism and whatever, but I think I’m accurately characterizing his perspective). I don’t think he was able to do that.

On a similar note, the Supreme Court blunted Bush’s policy initiatives a number of times: regarding Guantanamo and affirmative action, among other things.

And of course there were all those investigations and inquiries. Gonzales, Libby, Gale Norton, GAO reports about impropriety in the administrative agencies…even if these (and other similar) things didn’t specifically neutralize a specific Bush administration policy, it’s fair to say that they blunted future initiatives.

…Of course, on reflection, I see that you limit your question to Congress. So: judicial nominations and (kinda) the GAO is my response.

Fact Sheet: Balancing the Budget While Keeping Taxes Low

Most notable, second to failing to destroy SS, was the failure to make the tax cuts permanent. He also would have liked to rein in medicare and failed. But all in all, he was amazingly succssful in getting congress to go along with him. A number of congressmen may pay the price for that success.

I believe he tried to prevent the Office of Homeland Security from being created, at least as it was first proposed. Though does it count if Congress passes something he doesn’t like but he signs it anyways? If so, I imagine we could come up with a lot of examples, especially from the last two years (raising CAFE standards, for example).

Congress defunded the President’s Terrorism Information Awareness domestic spying program, even though he urged them not to.

The Dubai Ports World purchase of management of six American ports fell through despite Bush’s support.

For the sake of comparison, shouldn’t we also list the Bush initiatives that were passed by Congress? In determining the relative success of the administration, the number of failures is rather meaningless without the number of successes to compare it to.

Since this is GQ, I’ll just note that Bush did not try to privatize Social Security. He tried to phase in an ability for citizens to voluntarily invest a fraction of their FICA payments (1/3, max) in one of 6 investment funds selected by the government. Anyone who wanted to stick with the old system could do so.

So yeah, Bush failed to get his Social Security reform package passed, but it was not an attempt to privatize the system-- ie, turn it into something like Chile’s.

How about the bank bailout, which passed ultimately but in a form different from what the White House proposed. Does it count as a success or a failure?

Really? I thought he was in favor of Medicare Part D, which substantially increased the scope of the Medicare program to say the least.