Sunday, August 21, 2005
7 down - 41 to go
In Clinton's 2nd term the foolish impeachment & effemeral stock market bubble dominated. For Reagan Iran-Contra was the dominant topic for the last half of his 2nd term, but Reagan did have 2 notable achievements in the tax reform act of 1986 (who's benefits have largely though unsurprisingly evaporated since its passage) and the INF treaty. Too young to have memories of Eisenhower, but cannot recall reading of any major accomplishments during either of his terms, and Sherman Adams's mini-scandal was the key topic covered in my Poly Sci class on presidential history for Ike's second term.
Updating my criteria to judge Bush's second term:
- Cutting the budget deficit to 1.8% of GDP. Last estimate I read for fiscal 2005 is $331 Billion which should be ~2.7% of GDP from a high of 3.6% GDP last year. The "conventional wisdom" is that since the Medicare drug benefit will kick in during the calendar year 2006, the deficit should start to increase during the fiscal years 2006-2009 so do not expect the deficit to go below 2.0% of GDP under Bush.
- Approval of the Doha Round. Given how narrow the margin of victory for CAFTA was and the economic insecurity of folks to the Chinese trade deficit and Indian outsourcing, I can't see Bush making a serious attempt at gaining approval the Doha Round. If no serious progress is made before the Hong Kong WTO meeting 4 months from now, then that should sadly be the death knoll for this treaty to pass for years; will not even hazard a guess as to when farm subsidies will decrease to any noticeable degree in the 1st world.
- What can I add to the endless expostulations on Iraq? An average of 79 deaths per month for the past 3 months (May 21 - August 20th). The Iraqi police/military death toll looks to be lower this month than last though still above 200 per month. The constitution is still being negotiated, a difficult effort given that:
"We have a problem here... there is one group who wants a 21st century constitution and there is another group who wants a seventh century constitution," ...."Unfortunately, America is looking at both the groups with the same eye. They just want the draft to be ready on time."
and that the issues still unresolved are: the constitutional role of Islam; women's rights; the distribution of future oil revenues; and the creation of an enormous Shia "superregion" in southern Iraq. (Best 2 commentaries I've read are from the Whiskey bar via TodayinIraq).
Still enjoying the Rusty Nail winnings from my last wager, but will have to nurs my single malt until 2008-2009 when my next wagers come due. Really not sure what would make anyone wager that Osama Bin Laden would be caught, or that the draft will be started anew. Now wagering on troop levels in Iraq being down to 30,000 by 2009 makes more sense, given the lack of popular support for the war. I can easily see Bush declaring victory & cutting our troops to some minimal level, even if I can't tell if the comments about major troop reductions next years are serious or a smokescreen. Have read little to give me confidence that an Iraqi army can maintain security any better than the US army has so far. Only updates on Hillary are Jeanine Pirro's challenge which I expect to be as self-defeating as Rudy's or Vic's.