Talk about a day late and a dollar short: has there ever been a more apropos occasion for the use of the phrase, “Where were you when we needed you?” than the criticisms Allen Greenspan offers against George W. Bush and the GOP in his new book? For six years he largely did Bush’s bidding: now safely out of office, he suddenly tells us that the emperor has no clothes.
But then, aren’t you getting sick and tired of this whole routine? Of the growing parade of former Bush and GOP insiders who seem perfectly willing to criticize the mendacity of his positions now that they’ve surrendered the perks of office, but who publically supported the very same policies back when their opposition might actually have done some good?
You out there somewhere, Colin?
Here’s Paul Krugman on Greenspan:
When President Bush first took office, it seemed unlikely that he would succeed in getting his proposed tax cuts enacted. The questionable nature of his installation in the White House seemed to leave him in a weak political position, while the Senate was evenly balanced between the parties. It was hard to see how a huge, controversial tax cut, which delivered most of its benefits to a wealthy elite, could get through Congress.
Then Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, testified before the Senate Budget Committee.
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And in 2004 he expressed support for making the Bush tax cuts permanent — remember, these are the tax cuts he now says he didn’t endorse — and argued that the budget should be balanced with cuts in entitlement spending, including Social Security benefits, instead. Of course, back in 2001 he specifically assured Congress that cutting taxes would not threaten Social Security.
In retrospect, Mr. Greenspan’s moral collapse in 2001 was a portent. It foreshadowed the way many people in the foreign policy community would put their critical faculties on hold and support the invasion of Iraq, despite ample evidence that it was a really bad idea.
And like enthusiastic war supporters who have started describing themselves as war critics now that the Iraq venture has gone wrong, Mr. Greenspan has started portraying himself as a critic of administration fiscal irresponsibility now that President Bush has become deeply unpopular and Democrats control Congress.
Wouldn’t it have been nice if the Greenspans of the world had cared as much about the health of the nation while in office, as they obviously care now about the health of their own reputations out of office?