President George H.W. Bush
Since the passing of President George H.W. Bush, there has been much praise of his character, integrity, leadership, and service to our nation. Locally, this praise has included letters to the editor and columns written in the Boerne Star by Kevin Thompson and Kendall County Democratic Party Chairman Kevin Henning, who graciously offered positive thoughts about the Republican President.
I share this well deserved positive commentary; I was extremely proud to have him as our President. President Bush led our nation at a critical time in world history, with a steady hand as the forces of freedom won the battle over the evils of Marxism and darkness.
The USA was in a different place by the late 1970’s as opposed to when President Bush left office in 1993. We had lost the war in Vietnam, while Watergate and the impeachment of Richard Nixon shook the foundations of our Republic. Americans were wondering if our nation’s best days were behind us.
Ronald Reagan inspired millions to join in the effort to rebuild the morale of the USA with an energizing economic program and rebuilding of our military. Winning the GOP primaries in 1980 due to his strong conservative base, President Reagan realized that he needed to bridge the gap with segments of the party viewed as more traditional or establishment oriented. Thus, he selected George H.W. Bush as his running mate.
The team that led America for the next eight years was experienced and competent and displayed great wisdom in tackling many difficult issues. People across the globe once again looked to America for leadership and moral clarity. When President Reagan’s two terms were completed, it seemed natural that his second in command would run to succeed him.
Not only was President George H.W. Bush extremely qualified to serve as our Commander in Chief, he served in a time when our federal government functioned well. President Reagan showed us that you can accomplish a lot of things legislatively even when the opposing party controlled Congress. Undoubtedly the Democrat majority made it more challenging for Reagan to implement his policies, but successes included reducing the income tax rate from 70% down to under 30%, while passing much needed tax reform that eliminated many egregious tax deductions for special interests. Both accomplishments received significant bi-partisan support. Despite the doubling of revenue during this time, deficits grew as federal spending continued to increase beyond the rate of inflation and population growth.
President Bush took the heat for breaking his pledge of “read my lips, no new taxes.” Many have heard his concerns over the federal deficit in released audiotapes of his diary. He strongly felt that increasing debt was a threat to our future prosperity.
Many analysts today state that the 1990 budget agreement set the stage for the growing economy of the 1990’s and rapidly shrinking federal budget deficits. A decade that started with a $290 billion deficit ended with a surplus, while the percentage of GDP that federal spending consumed shrank from 21.9% to 18.2%. Over half of this reduction was due to savings in defense after the end of the Cold War, which was won thanks to the “Peace through Strength” philosophy of Presidents Reagan and Bush. Our total national debt shrank from 49% of GDP down to 35%.
Though I don’t like tax increases, I would agree to some if we actually had real reductions in federal spending. Today, we have entitlement programs that are actuarily unsound and scheduled to run out of “trust fund” money by 2026 for Medicare and 2033 for Social Security. What we need is leadership to deal with these financial challenges. Yet, what we have is many Democrats calling for even more expensive “free” programs, while Republicans seem afraid to reform government programs for fear of being labeled evil and mean spirited. We see plenty of demagoguery but where is the leadership?
It has been said that President Bush lacked the ability to display empathy and develop a connection with the American people. That may be true, as he lost re-election in 1992, but it does not change the feeling that millions of Americans have of having been proud to have him as our President. He lived to serve our nation and was not afraid to tackle difficult challenges, be it as an 18 year old fighter pilot, Director of the CIA, or as President who helped pound the final nail in the coffin of Soviet Marxism or dealing with financial challenges.
George H.W. Bush’s was a life well spent in serving a nation he loved dearly. America is lucky that he answered the call to service.
Written by Rich Sena as previously published in the Boerne Star