Gallup: 75% of Americans Correctly Blame Bush for Bush Recession

From left, Bush, Leach, Oxley
From left, Bush, Leach, Oxley
According to a new poll from Gallup, three-quarters of Americans still remember that the financial meltdown happened on George W. Bush’s watch.

However, just 19 months after the second greatest economic collapse of the past 100 years — and as a direct result of Republican efforts to rewrite the disastrous history of the Bush administration — a growing number of those surveyed said they are beginning to blame the Bush Recession on Pres. Obama. According to Gallup, in July 2009, only 32 percent — roughly the same number who self-identify as Republicans — blamed Pres. Obama. Now that number has risen to 50 percent. The jump in numbers was caused by the fact that 50 percent of independents and even 26 percent of Democrats now believe that Obama, who was a presidential candidate while serving in the Senate at the time of the meltdown, caused the recession.

On the other hand, Americans have not been completely swayed by conservatives’ attempts to rewrite history. In the 2009 survey, 80 percent blamed Bush, compared with 75 percent today.

Republican spin about the cause of the collapse generally pins the blame on Congress and specifically on the current House Financial Services Committee chairman, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). The collapse is Frank’s fault, Republicans say, because he controlled the private-public mortgage/finance companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Of course, this is demonstrably a lie. During the 12 years, from 1995 to 2007, leading up to the failures of Fannie and Freddie, Republicans, not Democrats, controlled the House, so Frank was not the chairman of the Finance Committee and so had little, if any, influence over Fannie and Freddie. Frank assumed the chairmanship when Democrats gained control of Congress in January 2007, by which point the lenders, along with the rest of the U.S. economy, were irreversibly doomed.

If Republicans insist on blaming the meltdown on the leadership of the House Finance Committee, then they should hold Republicans Mike Oxley of Ohio, who chaired the committee from 2001 to 2007, and Jim Leach of Iowa, who chaired it from 1995 to 2001, responsible.

Yes, there were Democrats, including Pres. Bill Clinton, who supported the underlying effort to expand home ownership. But if Republicans in Congress had disagreed with the policy, they — and only they — had the power to stop it. During the 12 years during which the systemic problems arose, from 1995 to 2007, Republicans controlled the White House for eight years, the House the entire time, as noted, and the Senate for about 10 years. And even if, in some upside-down alternate universe, the GOP Congress had passed a mortgage-finance reform bill, Bush would have undoubtedly vetoed it.

Why? Because, not only did Republicans ignore the problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the expansion of home ownership was one of a very few accomplishments George W. Bush had to brag about during his administration. In fact, it may be the only successful metric of his eight years in office.

And now even that has turned to crap.


  • Nikolai
    April 23, 2010 - 11:37 am | Permalink

    Hey now! GWB did TONS of good things while in office! Like, um… well, what about all those mosquito nets he gave to the malaria-ridden Africans?

    Oh wait, that was Laura… Never mind!

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