Domestic policy of the George W. Bush administration


Domestic policy of the George W. Bush administration
President George W. Bush signs into law S.2590, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Looking on are Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and from left: Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).

This article discusses the domestic policy of the George W. Bush Administration, from January 20, 2001 to January 20, 2009, when the Administration ended.

Contents

Domestic security

President George W. Bush meets with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia during Bush's visit to New York City for the United Nations General Assembly.

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Bush Administration proposed and Congress approved, a series of laws stated to be necessary in prosecuting the "War on Terror." These included a wide variety of surveillance programs, some of which came under heavy fire from civil liberties interest groups that criticized the new regulations for infringing upon certain civil liberties. The administration has also been criticized for refusing to back various security measures relating to port security in 2003 and 2004 and vetoing all US$39 million for the 2002 Container Security Initiative.

Diversity and civil rights

Faith-based initiatives

In early 2001, President Bush worked with Republicans in Congress to pass legislation changing the way the federal government regulated, taxeds and funded charities and non-profit initiatives run by religious organizations. Although prior to the legislation it was possible for these organizations to receive federal assistance, the new legislation removed reporting requirements, which required the organizations to separate their charitable functions from their religious functions. Bush also created the White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives.[1] Days into his first term, Bush announced his commitment to channeling more federal aid to faith-based service organizations. Bush created the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to assist faith-based service organizations. Critics claimed that this was an infringement of the separation of church and state.[2][3]

President George W. Bush meets with his cabinet after his re-election.

LGBT rights

As Governor of Texas, Bush had opposed efforts to repeal the criminal prohibition on "homosexual conduct", the same law that the United States Supreme Court overturned in 2003. (Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)). During the 2000 campaign he did not endorse a single piece of gay rights legislation, although he did meet with an approved group of Log Cabin Republicans, a first for a Republican presidential candidate.[4]

In his first four years of office, his views on gay rights were often difficult to ascertain, but many experts feel that the Bush White House wanted to avoid bad publicity without alienating evangelical conservative Christian voters. Thus, he did not repeal President Clinton's Executive Order banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the federal civilian government, but its critics felt it was being ignored.[5] He did not attempt to repeal Don't ask, don't tell, nor make an effort to change it. He threatened to veto the Matthew Shepard Act, which would have included sexual orientation in hate crimes.

While President Bush had always been on record as opposing the legal recognition of same-sex marriages, the 2004 Republican campaign strategy was to focus on "value issues" such as a Federal Marriage Amendment, that would prohibit same-sex couples from obtaining any legal recognition. President Bush endorsed this proposed amendment, but late in the campaign told ABC News and Larry King that he did not have a problem with state legislators enacting some type of civil unions legislation, although critics charged that the constitutional amendment he endorsed did not permit recognition of such unions.

Bush still expressed support for the Federal Marriage Amendment in his February 2, 2005 State of the Union address and during the 2006 midterm election, but given that it did not even receive majority support in the Senate, has ignored this issue in his most recent public statements and speeches.

Bush was the first Republican president to appoint an openly gay man to serve in his administration, Scott Evertz as director of the Office of National AIDS Policy.[6] In addition, during Bush's first term, his nominee as ambassador to Romania, Michael E. Guest, became the first openly gay man to be confirmed by the Senate as a U.S. ambassador. The first openly gay ambassador, James Hormel, received a recess appointment from Bill Clinton after the Senate failed to confirm the nomination.

Racial diversity

According to a CNN exit poll, Bush's support from African-Americans increased during his presidency from 9% of the black vote in 2000 to 11% in 2004.[7] An increase in Ohio (from 9% to 16%,[7] each ± about 5%) may have helped give the victory to Bush over Kerry.

Although Bush expressed appreciation for the Supreme Court's ruling upholding the selection of college applicants for purposes of diversity, his Administration filed briefs against it. Bush has said he opposes government sanctioned and enforced quotas and racial preferences, but that the private and public sector should be encouraged to reach out to accomplished minorities to increase employment diversity.

In August 2005, a report by the United States Commission on Civil Rights states that "the government fails to seriously consider race-neutral alternatives as the Constitution requires."[8] Chairman Gerald A. Reynolds explained, "Federal agencies do not independently evaluate, conduct research, collect data, or periodically review programs to determine whether race-neutral strategies will provide an adequate alternative to race-conscious programs." Civil rights groups have expressed concern that this report is an attack on affirmative action inconsistent with Grutter v. Bollinger.

In his first term, Bush appointed Colin Powell as Secretary of State. Powell was the first African-American man to serve in that position, and was succeeded by Condoleezza Rice: Rice became the first African-American woman to hold the post. In 2005, he appointed Alberto Gonzalez as the United States Attorney General, the first Hispanic to hold that position.

Bush met with the National Urban League, the nation's oldest civil rights organization during his term of office as well.

Science

On December 19, 2002, Bush signed into law H. R. 4664, far-reaching legislation to put the National Science Foundation (NSF) on a track to double its budget over five years and to create new mathematics and science education initiatives at both the pre-college and undergraduate level.[9] In the first three years of those five, the R&D budget has increased by fourteen percent.[10][11] Bush has long been dogged by criticism that his administration ignores or suppresses scientific advice.[12] Bush showed support for oceanography and space exploration; and supported sciences on reducing pollution. Bush generally was opposed to biology especially the science of human reproduction and reproductive health; and science with global warming. Bush supported "Teach the Controversy". Bush’s positions were not always shared by his party.

Stem cell research

Bush supported adult stem cell research and umbilical cord blood stem cell research. However, Bush opposed any new embryonic stem cell research, and had limited the federal funding of existing research. Federal funding for embryonic stem cell research was first approved under President Bill Clinton on January 19, 1999,[13] but no money was to be spent until the guidelines were published. The guidelines were released under Clinton on August 23, 2000.[14] They allowed use of unused frozen embryos. On August 9, 2001, before any funding was granted under these guidelines, Bush announced modifications to the guidelines to allow use of only existing stem cell lines.[15] While Bush claimed that more than 60 embryonic stem cell lines already existed from privately funded research, scientists in 2003 said there were only 11 usable lines, and in 2005 that all lines approved for Federal funding are contaminated and unusable.[16] Adult stem cell funding was not restricted and was supported by President Bush as a more viable means of research.

Space exploration

President George W. Bush waves as he prepares to depart the White House aboard Marine One from the South Lawn en route to Andrews Air Force Base for his trip to Michigan.

On January 14, 2004, Bush announced a Vision for Space Exploration,[17] calling for the completion of the International Space Station by 2010 and the retirement of the space shuttle while developing a new spacecraft called the Crew Exploration Vehicle under the title Project Constellation. The CEV would be used to return American astronauts to the Moon by 2018, with the objective of establishing a permanent lunar base, and eventually sending future manned missions to Mars.[18] To this end, the plan proposes that NASA's budget increase by five percent every year until it is capped at US$18 billion in 2008, with only inflationary increases thereafter.[19] The planned retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet in 2010 after the ISS is completed is also expected to free up US$5 billion to US$6 billion a year. The US$16.2 billion budget for 2005 proposed by NASA met with resistance from House and Senate spending committees, and the initiative was little-mentioned during the presidential campaign.[20] Nonetheless, the budget was approved with only minor changes shortly after the November elections.

Supporters believe that this plan will be an important part of what Bush set in place while in office. However, the policy has been criticized on two fronts. Firstly, critics have opined that the United States should deal with solving domestic issues before concentrating on space exploration. Secondly, of the funding over the next five years that Bush has proposed, only US$1 billion will be in new appropriations while the remaining US$11 billion will be reallocated from NASA's other programs, and therefore inadequate to fully realize this vision. Most of the spending for the new program, and most of the budget cuts for existing programs, are scheduled after the last year of the Bush presidency. It is unclear how the space vision will be reconciled with budgetary concerns in the longer term.

President George W. Bush addresses the nation from the Oval Office Monday evening, September 11, 2006, marking the fifth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001. President Bush said, "The war against this enemy is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century and the calling of our generation.".

In January 2005, the White House released a new Space Transportation Policy fact sheet [21] which outlined the administration's space policy in broad terms and tied the development of space transport capabilities to national security requirements.

Environment

In December 2003, Bush signed legislation implementing key provisions of his Healthy Forests Initiative. Another subject of controversy is Bush's Clear Skies Initiative, which seeks to reduce air pollution through expansion of emissions trading.

Bush signed the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002 authorizing the federal government to begin cleaning up pollution and contaminated sediment in the Great Lakes, as well as the Brownfields Legislation in 2002, accelerating the cleanup of abandoned industrial sites, or brownfields, to better protect public health, create jobs, and revitalize communities.

Bush stated his reason for not supporting the Kyoto Protocol was that it unfairly targeted the United States while being deliberately lenient with certain developing countries, especially China and India. Bush stated, "The world's second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases is China. Yet, China was entirely exempted from the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol."

Bush also questioned the science behind the global warming phenomenon, insisting that more research be done to determine its validity.[22]

Global warming

Upon arriving in office in 2001, President Bush withdrew United States support of the then-pending Kyoto Protocol, an amendment to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change seeking to impose mandatory targets for reducing "greenhouse gas" emissions - carbon dioxide emitted in the burning of fossil fuels. Bush asserted that uncertainties existed in the climate change science regarding the degree to which human activity is the cause and cited concerns regarding the treaty's impact on U.S. industry and economy and the fact that China and India had not yet agreed.[23]

In 2002, the Bush Administration's Environmental Protection Agency issued a Climate Action Report concluding that the climate changes observed over several decades "are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of natural variability".[24] While the EPA report was initially hailed by some environmentalists critical of the Bush administration as a "180-degree turn on the science" reversing "everything the president has said about global warming since he took office," within days President Bush dismissed the report as being "put out by the bureaucracy" and reaffirmed his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol.[24]

The White House has come under criticism for downplaying reports that link human activity and greenhouse gas emissions to climate change and that a White House official and former oil industry advocate, Philip Cooney, adjusted descriptions of climate research that had already been approved by some government scientists.[citation needed] The White House denied that Philip Cooney watered down any of the reports.[25] In June 2005, State Department papers showed the administration thanking Exxon executives for the company's "active involvement" in helping to determine climate change policy, including the US stance on Kyoto. Input from the business lobby group Global Climate Coalition was also a factor.[26]

The Bush Administration's stance on global warming, and in particular its questioning the consensus of scientists, would remain controversial in the scientific and environmental communities during his presidency. In 2004, the Director of NASA's Goddard Institute, James E. Hansen, came out publicly and harshly accusing the Administration of misinforming the public by suppressing the scientific evidence of the dangers of greenhouse gases, saying the Bush Administration wanted to hear only scientific results that “fit predetermined, inflexible positions” and edited reports to make the dangers sound less threatening in what he asserted was "direct opposition to the most fundamental precepts of science."[27][28] Other experts, such as former U.S. Department of Energy official Joseph Romm, have decried the Bush administration as a "denier and delayer" of government action essential to reduce carbon emissions and deter global warming.[29]

President Bush believes that global warming is real[30] and has said that he has consistently noted that global warming is a serious problem but asserted there is a "debate over whether it's manmade or naturally caused" and maintained that regardless of that debate his administration was working on plans to make America less dependent on foreign oil "for economic and national security reasons."[31] In his 2007 State of the Union Address, President Bush renewed his pledge from his 2006 State of the Union Address to work toward diminished reliance on foreign oil by reducing fossil fuel consumption and increasing alternative fuel production, saying, "America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil. And these technologies will help us be better stewards of the environment, and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change."[32]

The position Bush has taken on climate change has shifted with a gradual increasing acceptance that global warming is a problem, and that it is partly caused by human activity. The United States has signed the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, a pact that allows signatory countries to set goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions individually, but with no enforcement mechanism. Supporters of the pact see it as complementing the Kyoto Protocol whilst being more flexible Critics have said the pact will be ineffective without any enforcement measures. Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with 187 mayors from US towns and cities, have pledged to adopt Kyoto style legal limits on greenhouse gas emissions.[33]

Other environmentalists[who?] have argued that Bush has been unfairly demonized as an opponent of gas emission caps. Writer Rod Dreher laments that the media has not given Bush credit for pushing the 2004 Methane to Markets initiative through Congress. Dreher stated that methane is "twenty-three times more potent a contributor to global warming than the carbon dioxide emissions the Kyoto treaty aimed at cutting" and asserted that Bush's methane treaty "cut just as much of that atmospheric gas as Kyoto promised to cut carbon dioxide in the best-case scenario." [34]

President George W. Bush gestures as he addresses his remarks to the media in Camp David, following a meeting with his economic advisors, from left to right, Edward P. Lazear, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors; Rob Portman, director of the Office of Management and Budget; U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao; Vice President Dick Cheney; U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson; U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez; U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael O. Leavitt and Allan Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council.

Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

For economic and national security reasons, Bush supported Alaska Senator Ted Stevens' plan to tap the oil reserves in a 2,000-acre (8 km2) area of Alaska's 19 million acre (77,000 km²) Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Pro-exploration supporters argue that U.S. companies have the most stringent environmental requirements, and that by doing the drilling in the middle of the winter, it would create a very small environmental footprint.[35]

Opponents stated that drilling would damage the coastal plain’s fragile ecosystem and its wildlife. Proponents stated that modern techniques can extract the oil without damaging the environment [36]

The Clear Skies Act of 2003

Initially announced by President Bush in 2002,[37] the Clear Skies Initiative was aimed at amending the Clean Air Act to further reduce air pollution and expanded the emissions trading programs to include new pollutants such as mercury. The goal of the initiative was to reduce the sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and mercury emissions of power plants over the course of 15 years, while saving consumers millions of dollars.[37]

Among other things, the Clear Skies Act states that it would:[38][39][40]

  • Cut mercury emissions by 69 percent, - the first-ever national cap on mercury emissions. Emissions will be cut from current emissions of 48 tons to a cap of 26 tons in 2010, and 15 tons in 2018.
  • Cut emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) by 67 percent, from emissions of 5 million tons to a cap of 2.1 million tons in 2008, and to 1.7 million tons in 2018
  • Cut sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 73 percent, from emissions of 11 million tons to a cap of 4.5 million tons in 2010, and 3 million tons in 2018.
  • Emission caps will be set to account for different air quality needs in the East and the West.
  • Section 483 of the Bill exempt some older building from many of the provisions of the Bill, but must still meet carbon monoxide standards.

Education

No Child Left Behind

In January 2002, Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act, with Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy as chief sponsor,[41] which aims to close the achievement gap, measures student performance, provides options to parents with children in low-performing schools, and targets more federal funding to low-income schools. Critics, including Senator John Kerry and the National Education Association, say schools were not given the resources to help meet new standards, although their argument is based on premise that authorization levels are spending promises instead of spending caps. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce said that the Department of Education's overall funding increased by US$14 billion since the enactment of NCLB in fiscal year 2001, going from US$42.6 billion to US$56.6 billion in fiscal year 2005.[42] Some state governments are refusing to implement provisions of the act as long as they are not adequately funded.[43]

In January 2005, USA Today reported that the United States Department of Education had paid US$240,000 to African-American conservative political commentator Armstrong Williams "to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalist to do the same."[44] Williams did not disclose the payments.

The House Education and Workforce Committee stated, "As a result of the No Child Left Behind Act, signed by Bush on January 8, 2002, the Federal government today is spending more money on elementary and High School (K-12) education than at any other time in the history of the United States."[45] Funding increases have to a large degree been offset at the state level by increased costs associated with implementing NCLB, as well as the impacts of the economic downturn on education budgets.

Sex education

The Bush administration promoted a policy of abstinence only sex education, denying federal funding for any other type of sexual health education.

Economy

George W. Bush speaks to firefighters on November 4, 2003, as California Governor-Elect Arnold Schwarzenegger and Governor Gray Davis listen.

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the economy suffered from a recession that lasted from March 2001 to November 2001. During the Bush Administration, Real GDP has grown at an average annual rate of 2.5%.[46]

Inflation under Bush has remained near historic lows at about 2-3% per year. The recession and a drop in some prices led to concern about deflation from mid-2001 to late-2003. More recently, high oil prices have caused concern about increasing inflation.

Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, sizable trade and budget deficits. Under the Bush administration, productivity has grown by an average of 3.76% per year, the highest such average in ten years.[47]

While the GDP recovered from a recession that some claim Bush inherited from the previous administration,[48] poverty has since worsened according to the Census Bureau. The percentage of the population below the poverty level increased in each of Bush's first four years, while it decreased for each of the prior seven years to an 11-year low. Although the poverty level increased the increase was still lower from 2000 to 2002 than it was from 1992 to 1997, which reached a peak of 39.3% in 1993. In 2002 the poverty rate was 34.6% which was almost equal to the rate in 1998, which was 34.5%. Poverty was at 12.7% in 2004.[49][50]

Taxes

President Bush won passage for two major tax cuts during his term in office: The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003. Collectively, they became known, analyzed, and debated as the "Bush tax cuts".

The cuts, scheduled to expire a decade after passage, increased the standard income tax deduction for married couples, eliminated the estate tax, and reduced marginal tax rates. Bush asked Congress to make the tax cuts permanent, but others wanted the cuts to be wholly or partially repealed even before their scheduled expiration, seeing the decrease in revenue while increasing spending as fiscally irresponsible.

Bush's supporters claim that the tax cuts increase the pace of economic recovery and job creation. They also claim that total benefits to wealthier individuals are a reflection of higher taxes paid. Individual income tax rate provisions in the 2001 law, for instance, created larger marginal tax rate decreases for people earning less than US$12,000 than any other earners.[51]

President George W. Bush addresses the media during a visit to the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Maryland.

His opponents contest job prediction claims, primarily noting that the increase in job creation predicted by Bush's plan failed to materialize. They instead allege that the purpose of the tax cuts was intended to favor the wealthy and special interests, as the majority of benefit from the tax cut, in absolute terms, went to earners in the higher tax brackets. Bush's opponents additionally claim that the tax cuts are a major reason Bush reversed a national surplus into a historically large deficit.

In an open letter to Bush in 2004, more than 100 professors of business and economics at U.S. business schools ascribed this "fiscal reversal" to Bush's "policy of slashing taxes - primarily for those at the upper reaches of the income distribution."[52]

By 2004, these cuts had reduced federal tax revenues, as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product, to the lowest level since 1959. With the NASDAQ crash and one quarter of negative growth in 2000 it was likely we were headed into a recession,[53] yet merely two years after the 2003 Bush tax cuts, federal revenues (in dollars) had reached a record high.[54] The effect of simultaneous record increases in spending and tax reductions was to create record budget deficits in absolute terms, though as recently as 1993, the deficit was slightly larger than the current 3.6% of the GDP. In the last year of the Clinton administration, the federal budget showed an annual surplus of more than US$230 billion.[55] Under Bush, the government returned to deficit spending. The annual deficit reached an absolute record of US$374 billion in 2003 and then a further record of $413 billion in 2004.[56][57]

Spending

President Bush expanded public spending by 70 percent, more than double the increase under President Clinton. Bush was the first president in 176 years to continue an entire term without vetoing any legislation.[58]

The tax cuts, recession, and increases in outlays all contributed to record budget deficits during the Bush administration. The annual deficit reached record current-dollar levels of US$374 billion in 2003 and US$413 billion in 2004. National debt, the cumulative total of yearly deficits, rose from US$5.7 trillion (58% of GDP) to US$8.3 trillion (67% of GDP) under Bush,[59] as compared to the US$2.7 trillion total debt owed when Ronald Reagan left office, which was 52% of the GDP.[60]

According to the "baseline" forecast of federal revenue and spending by the Congressional Budget Office (in its January 2005 Baseline Budget Projections,[61] the budget deficits will decrease over the next several years. In this projection the deficit will fall to US$368 billion in 2005, US$261 billion in 2007, and US$207 billion in 2009, with a small surplus by 2012. The CBO noted, however, that this projection "omits a significant amount of spending that will occur this year — and possibly for some time to come — for U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and for other activities related to the global War on Terrorism." The projection also assumes that the Bush tax cuts "will expire as scheduled on December 31, 2010." If, as Bush has urged, the tax cuts were to be extended, then "the budget outlook for 2015 would change from a surplus of US$141 billion to a deficit of US$282 billion." Other economists have disputed this, arguing that the CBO does not use dynamic scoring, to take into account what effect tax cuts would have on the economy.

Federal spending in constant dollars increased under Bush by 26% in his first four and a half years. Non-defense spending increased 18% in that time.[62] Of the US$2.4 trillion budgeted for 2005, about US$450 billion are planned to be spent on defense. This level is generally comparable to the defense spending during the cold war.[63] Congress approved US$87 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan in November, and had approved an earlier US$79 billion package last spring. Most of those funds were for U.S. military operations in the two countries.

Former President Clinton's last budget featured an increase of 16% on domestic non security discretionary spending. Growth under President Bush was cut to 6.2% in his first budget, 5.5% in his second, 4.3% in his third, and 2.2% in his fourth.

Trade

Bush supports free trade policies and legislation but has resorted to protectionist policies on occasion. Tariffs on imported steel imposed by the White House in March 2002 were lifted after the World Trade Organization ruled them illegal. Bush explained that the safeguard measures had "achieved their purpose", and "as a result of changed economic circumstances", it was time to lift them.[64]

President Bush signed the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement into law on August 2, 2005. The agreement is designed to create a free trade zone similar to the one embodied in the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Regulation

Economic regulation expanded rapidly during the Bush administration. President Bush is quoted as the biggest regulator since President Richard Nixon.[65] Bush administration increased the number of new pages in the Federal Registry, a proxy for economic regulation, from 64,438 new pages in 2001 to 78,090 in new pages in 2007, a record amount of regulation.[65] Economically significant regulations, defined as regulations which cost more than $100 million a year, increased by 70%.[65]

Spending on regulation increased by 62% from $26.4 billion to $42.7 billion.[65]

Employment

Unemployment percentage, 2000–2005

Looking at the annual average unemployment rates for each of the eight years of Bush's presidency, the average of all eight figures, and thus of his entire presidency, is 5.26%, with a low of 4.6% for the years of 2006 and 2007, and a high of 6.0% for 2003.[66]

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unemployed was nearly 6.0 million in January 2001 and 6.9 million in September 2006. The unemployment rate was 4.2% in January 2001, 4.6% in September 2006, and 7.2% in December 2008. Employment peaked in late 1999 and declined through 2008.[67]

Poverty Rate, 1973 to Present

The Current Population Survey (aka Household Survey) measures the percentage of the population that is employed and unemployed. The result can be multiplied by population estimates to get total employment estimates. This survey has the advantage over the payroll survey in that it includes self-employed. The Household Survey is less accurate in producing total numbers since it requires population estimates and in that it samples many fewer people (60,000 households versus 400,000 business establishments). For better or worse, the Household Survey counts multiple jobs held by one person only once, and it includes government workers, farm workers, unpaid family workers, and workers absent without pay. The Household Survey indicates that the percentage of the population employed decreased from 64.4% in December 2000 and January 2001 to 62.1% in August and September 2003. By August 2005, it had recovered only to 62.9%. In absolute numbers, this corresponds to a drop of 1.6 million jobs but an eventual net gain of 4.7 million jobs during the Bush administration.[68]

Under Bush, the seasonally adjusted Unemployment Rate based on the Household Survey started at 4.7% in January 2001, peaked at 6.2% in June 2003, and retreated to 4.9% in August 2005.

In September 2005, total private average weekly earnings in constant dollars as measured by the Payroll Survey dropped to their lowest level since July 1998. While Hurricane Katrina and associated price increases may have played a role, real earnings had decreased for seven of the prior eight months. Through 2002-2004, earnings had been slightly higher than when Bush came into office.

Economic Report

In 2004, a full chapter on Iraq's economy was excised from the Economic Report of the President, in part because it doesn't fit the "feel good" tone of the writing, according to White House officials.[69]

Health care

In July 2002, Bush cut off U.S. funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Bush stated that the UNFPA supported forced abortions and sterilizations in the People's Republic of China,.[70]

Bush signed the Medicare Act of 2003, which added prescription drug coverage to Medicare (United States), subsidized pharmaceutical corporations, and prohibited the Federal government from negotiating discounts with drug companies.

Bush signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in 2003, having declared his aim to "promote a culture of life".

Social Security

Shortly after his second inauguration, Bush (here seen with a panel in Omaha, Nebraska) toured the nation to promote his proposal for Social Security (United States) personal accounts.

Bush is an advocate of the partial privatization of Social Security wherein an individual would be free to invest a portion of his Social Security taxes in personal retirement accounts.

Bush has called for major changes in Social Security, identifying the system's projected insolvency as a priority early in his second term. From January through April 2005, he toured the country, stopping in over 50 cities across the nation warning of an impending "crisis". Initially, President Bush emphasized his proposal for personalized accounts would allow individual workers to invest a portion of their Social Security Tax (FICA) into secured investments. The main advantage of personal accounts within Social Security is to allow workers to own the money they place into retirement that cannot be taken away by political whims.

Most Democrats and some Republicans are critical of such ideas, partly because of the large (US$1 trillion or more) federal borrowing the plan would require, which might actually worsen the imbalance between revenues and expenses that Bush pointed to as a looming problem; and partly because of the problems encountered by the United Kingdom's privatized pension plan. See Social Security debate (United States). In addition, many Democrats opposed changes that they felt were turning Social Security into a welfare program that would be politically vulnerable. Portions of the Bush's bill exempting private companies from social security payments have led to complaints that Bush's plan was created to benefit private companies, and that it would turn Social Security into just another insurance program.

Capital punishment

George W. Bush is a strong supporter of capital punishment. During his tenure as Governor of Texas, 152 people were executed in that state, maintaining its record as the leading state in executions. [71] As President of the United States, he has continued in his support for capital punishment, including presiding over the first federal execution in decades, that of convicted terrorist Timothy McVeigh. Although Bush's support of the death penalty is known, controversy broke in 1999 when journalist Tucker Carlson revealed that the Governor had mocked the plight of Karla Faye Tucker in an interview.[72]

Other issues

Abortion

On his first day in office, President Bush implemented the Mexico City Policy; this policy required nongovernmental organizations receiving federal funds to agree not to perform abortions or to actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations.[73][74] In 2002, President Bush signed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which extends legal protection to infants born alive after failed attempts at induced abortion.[75] Also in 2002, President Bush withdrew funding from the United Nations Population Fund based on a finding that UNPF’s activities facilitated China’s one-child-only/forced abortion policy.[76] In 2003, President Bush signed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act into law;[77] that law was later upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in Gonzales v. Carhart.[78] President Bush signed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (Laci and Conner's Law), which provides that a person who commits certain federal violent crimes and thereby causes the death of, or bodily injury to, a fetus shall be guilty of a separate offense, whether or not the person knew the mother was pregnant or intended to harm the fetus.[79]

Euthanasia

Bush staunchly opposes euthanasia. He supported Ashcroft's decision to file suit against the voter-approved Oregon Death with Dignity Act, which was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court in favor of the Oregon law.[80] As governor of Texas, however, Bush had signed a law which gave hospitals the authority to take terminally ill patients off of life support against the wishes of their spouse or parents, if the doctors deemed it medically appropriate.[81] This became an issue in 2005, when the President signed controversial legislation forwarded and voted on by only three members of the Senate to initiate federal intervention in the Terri Schiavo case.[82]

Amber Alert

Bush signed the Amber Alert legislation into law on April 30, 2003, which was developed to quickly alert the general public about child abductions using various media sources.[83] On July 27, 2006 Bush signed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act which establishes a national database requiring all convicted sex offenders to register their current residency and related details on a monthly instead of the previous yearly basis. Newly convicted sex offenders will also face longer mandatory incarceration periods.[84]

National preserves

On June 15, 2006, Bush created the seventy-fifth, and largest, National Monument in U.S. history and the largest Marine Protected Area in the world with the formation of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument.[85]

Energy

In 2005-06, Bush emphasized the need for comprehensive energy reform and proposed increased funding for research and development of renewable sources of energy such as hydrogen power, nuclear power, ethanol, and clean coal technologies. Bush proposed the American Competitiveness Initiative which seeks to support increasing competitiveness of the U.S. economy, with greater development of advanced technologies, as well as greater education and support for American students. In the 2007 State of the Union speech, President Bush proposed a 20:10 policy, where, as a nation, the United States would be working to reduce 20% of the national energy usage in next 10 years by converting to ethanol.

Tariffs

Bush's imposition of a tariff on imported steel and on Canadian softwood lumber was controversial in light of his advocacy of free market policies in other areas; this attracted criticism both from his fellow conservatives[who?] and from nations affected[who?].[citation needed] The steel tariff was later rescinded under pressure from the World Trade Organization. A negotiated settlement to the softwood lumber dispute was reached in April 2006, and the historic seven-year deal was finalized on July 1, 2006.[citation needed]

References

  1. ^ Faith-Based and Community Initiatives
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