Today, both President Bush's radio address and the Democratic response outlined the important issues of the campaign.
The President spoke first. He credited his tax cuts with improving the economy. That is debatable. With the tax rates that existed before the tax cuts, Bill Clinton presided over the creation of 20 million jobs in eight years. Under President Bush, there has been a net gain of 4 million jobs in a little under six years. And even if you start counting, as the President does, when he claims his tax cuts 'kicked in,' in mid 2003 when he had already lost two million jobs, since then there have been six million jobs created in over three years, so less than two million per year. That is still fewer per year (even using the same starting point that the Bush administration uses) than the Clinton average with the old tax rates.
And what exactly did the President suggest would happen if the Democrats took back Congress? That the tax cuts would expire and the old rates would return. Yeah, bring back the economy of the 1990's when they were in force. Only in George Bush's economic view of the world would that be a bad thing. My gosh, we might even get the surplus back. Horror of horrors, wouldn't that be a bad thing?
Of course the economic news out this week suggests that might not be any too soon either. A Commerce Department report on Friday showed that the economy in the third quarter showed an annual rate of just 1.6 percent -- the slowest in more than three years, and well short of the 2.1 percent annualized rate that analysts had forecast. Investment in housing dropped by the most in 15 years (which was way back before Bill Clinton came in and raised taxes to get rid of the deficit).
Meanwhile, Virginia Senate candidate Jim Webb delivered the Democratic radio response. Webb is a former Republican, who served as Navy secretary under President Reagan and received three silver stars in Vietnam and has a son on active duty with the marines in Iraq. Webb said that Bush and his administration have been incompetent in fighting the Iraq war, and that has harmed us in the war against terrorism. This is nothing new, but it points out that the Democrats consider that right now Iraq and the war on terrorism are the most important issues. And they are right.
Webb said, "Since 2003, President Bush has laid out nine different plans for victory in Iraq, none of them serious and none of them workable. And most seriously, this incompetence has hindered our ability to fight international terror."
Webb wrote in 2002 that a war in Iraq would be 'protracted and bloody.' He was right. So he was a logical choice to deliver the response today.
He also suggested that if the GOP retained control of Congress, we will see at least the next two years of Congress and the Senate continuing to rubber stamp Bush's policies on Iraq and we will uselessly lose more troops in what has by now become anybody's guess what exactly we are pursuing anymore.
Webb did offer a solution to this though, at least a plan to make the administration explain what and why we are fighting in Iraq and a plan to finish this war. "A Democratic Congress will demand from day one that the president find a real way forward in Iraq. We'll work with the administration and other Republicans to develop a concrete plan, but none of us are ready to settle for empty rhetoric, or the same old unacceptable results."
The choice is clear.