Wednesday, April 20, 2005
3 down - 45 to go
Next year tax reform is a possibility, but if Bush is accurate that he only has 30 months, then roughly ½ of his effective time will have dissipated by the time Breaux & friends are ready with their suggestions. There will be other mid-level legislative successes such as the Bankruptcy Bill & maybe ANWR drilling with some energy bill (both of which were passed over a month ago), but my sense is that Bush is following events, not leading them now.
Updating my metrics to judge Bush:
- Trade - have heard nothing on Doha, so have no expectations that it will regain any political interest.
- Deficit - the most recent "emergency" supplemental funding for Iraq/Afghanistan is $81.4B so expect the deficit to stay 3.5% of GDP for this fiscal year.
- Iraq - the death toll has decreased to 30+ last month and it looks to be the same this month (24 month to date) - a death rate I expect to remain steady-state for the foreseeable future. The 'emerging conventional wisdom' is that the insurgents have changed targets to the indigenous forces. Via Today in Iraq (a daily must read), here's a web site tracking deaths of Iraqi police/military. It appears that their deaths are a stead-state 200/month. Also after the post-election lull, the insurgency appears to be back to its lethal effectiveness.
Two other areas that Bush deserves to be graded on are Human Rights of detainees and release of detainees. Monitoring the left wing sites, the abuses in prisons that I read about today occur mostly in 2003. Of course, accountability and justice will never be served, but at least the egregious abuses have diminished (gone away?). For release of detainees, hopefully yesterday's release of 17 afghan detainees is a harbinger of things to come.
- 2 wagers that OBL will not be caught: still very safe - 1,000,000:1. Have not even heard any talk of "we may be getting close for sometime).
- 1 wager that the draft will not be renewed: still extremely safe - 200,000:1.
- 1 wager that our troop level in Iraq will not go below 50,000 (still the least safe - 3:2), but there's no sign that our troop levels will go down this year.
- Mark Warner vs. Hillary. Most recent Wall Street Journal criticism seems on the mark to me. Hillary is just too obvious a politician, not slick like Bubba, and doesn't possess the faux common man touch like W. If anything, right now, I would not predict either one, but it's too late to switch to Richardson with his shuffled persona.
Bottom line: my prediction that Bush's 2nd term would be less worse than his first is proving a reality.