Bush grew government and regulations too

The past sometimes looks better than it really was. That seems to be the case with some conservatives and the administration of George W. Bush. As I note in response to a column defending the Bush track record by economist Micha Gisser, spending and government grew at rapid rates during the Bush years.

I respect Micha Gisser as an economist, but I think he allows politics to cloud his economic thinking in his recent column on the US and New Mexico economies.

In analyzing the national economy, Gisser, emphasizes the Bush tax cuts, but fails to acknowledge that the Administration’s overall economic track record was disastrous (from a free market perspective). To name just a few harmful policies, Bush (along with a Republican controlled Congress) increased spending and indebtedness to unprecedented levels, created a new health care entitlement, and dramatically expanded the scope and cost of federal regulations. Obama has raised taxes and further expanded government.

New Mexico’s recent economic history is also nuanced. Democrats have consistently controlled the Legislature for decades, but Bill Richardson managed to convince them to reduce income tax rates from 8.2 to 4.9 percent. These were the most significant pro-growth tax cuts enacted in any state in that time frame. Not surprisingly, New Mexico led the region in personal income growth during the decade from 2000 to 2009.

Unfortunately, Richardson also created the costly Rail Runner and Spaceport, both of which continue to burden our economy. Gov. Martinez has worked to reduce the corporate tax and gross receipts tax burdens while not burdening taxpayers with new, costly projects like the Rail Runner and Spaceport.

Both New Mexico and the US economies face serious problems with out-of-control spending, tax burdens on productive behavior, and costly regulations. We should analyze politicians’ records on their merits, absent partisan blinders.

Paul J. Gessing
Rio Grande Foundation
PO Box 40336
Albuquerque, NM 87196