The dreaded ‘Bush-Obama’ economic agenda

THE DREADED ‘BUSH-OBAMA’ ECONOMIC AGENDA…. An interesting new House Republican memo, obtained by Greg Sargent, takes aim at George W. Bush’s economic policies, and tries to connect the unpopular former president with President Obama.

The memo directly blames Bush’s handling of the economic meltdown, and it coins a striking new phrase linking Bush and Obama and blaming both administration’s bailout policies in tandem for exacerbating the meltdown: “The Great Bush-Obama Economic Intervention.”

The memo goes considerably further than many GOPers have been willing to go in publicly questioning Bush on the economy. It suggests that Republicans may soon begin making a public case that attacks both Bush’s and Obama’s economic policies when the next step in Obama’s overhaul of financial regulations hits.

“The financial crisis of 2008 had its roots primarily in ill-conceived government policies,” reads the memo. It was prepared by Republican staffers to advise GOP members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on how to handle a recent hearing on the government’s role in Bank of America’s purchase of Merrill Lynch.

If complaints about “Bush-Obama” economic policies sounds at all familiar, there’s a good reason. Starting in February, Newt Gingrich started complaining bitterly about “Bush-Obama” economic ideas. The disgraced former House Speaker even had an op-ed in the Washington Times in which he used the phrase “Bush-Obama” four times in four paragraphs.

Why House Republicans would want to follow Gingrich’s lead is a mystery to me, but it certainly wouldn’t be the first time they’ve made this mistake.

And while it’s interesting to see House Republicans — you know, the ones who voted in support of Bush’s economic agenda for eight years — use the former president’s name as a point of attack, this rhetorical strategy has at least one major flaw.

For five months, these same congressional Republicans have argued that the Obama administration’s agenda represents a radical and dangerous departure from American norms. Words like “socialism” and “communism” have been thrown around rather casually since January.

With this in mind, it’s a little difficult to turn around and point to what Newt has called the “Bush-Obama continuity” on economic policy.

Either Obama’s approach is a radical change or it’s Bush’s agenda warmed over. It can’t be both.