Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bush Is No Champion of the Free Market

Bush Is No Champion of the Free Market

November 14, 2008. Reprinted with permission from the Ayn Rand Institute.

Washington, D.C.—In a recent speech on the financial crisis, President Bush said, “If you seek economic growth, if you seek opportunity, if you seek social justice and human dignity, the free market system is the way to go.”

According to Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, “It’s true that free markets are the source of economic prosperity and individual liberty—but President Bush, while he may pay lip service to free markets, has been a consistent opponent of them.

“Did Bush abolish the countless regulations and controls strangling businessmen? No. But he did sign into law Sarbanes-Oxley—the largest expansion of business regulation in decades. Did Bush consistently push for free trade? No. But he did give us a new steel tariff. Did Bush attempt to roll back America’s massive welfare state? No. But he did pass the prescription drug benefit, the largest new entitlement program since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. Did Bush curtail government spending? Far from it. Bush presided over an unprecedented increase in the federal budget: from $1 trillion at the time he took office to more than $3 trillion today. This is to say nothing of Bush’s response to the financial crisis. He has completely evaded his administration’s responsibility for the Fed and housing policies that created the housing bubble. Instead, he has led the chorus blaming the market and calling for unprecedented handouts, bailouts, and nationalizations as the cure.

“If Bush is a friend of the free market, who needs enemies? By praising the free market while systematically undermining it, Bush has done more to discredit capitalism than any open critic could. Like a con artist who undercuts the reputation of Mercedes by selling lemon look-alikes, Bush has now led people to associate his failed policies with capitalism. That association needs to be erased. We must make it clear: Bush is no friend of free markets.”

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