George W. Bush remains an enigma. Does he really believe in the free market? Does he completely misunderstand how markets work? Or, does he simply pay lip service to markets while continuing to undermine them? Regardless of his innermost feelings, there is no doubt that Bush abandoned free markets early and often in his presidency.
Unfortunately, as this recent story illustrates, Bush continues to imply that he was a free marketeer until he decided that a little (or a lot) of socialism was needed.
As Matt Welch points out over at Reason:
The real failure here is one of nerve, of imagination, of historical memory. You cannot save something by destroying it, or abandoning it, or even giving it a few stiff raps in the kneecaps. “Paternalism” is too mild a word for the mentality that produces such a sentiment, let alone the disastrous policies to back it up.
I would go even further and argue that the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, No Child Left Behind, Sarbanes-Oxley, massive regulation, and massive spending increases under Bush should put lie to the President’s claims of adhering to free markets, but that is just a starter list. Unfortunately, he continues to besmirch and discredit free markets the more he opens his mouth.
Call me crazy, but how much worse can President Obama really be? At least he doesn’t paint himself as a free market believer.