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James Altucher Headshot

The Third Term of George W. Bush

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I forget. Did we elect "W" for a third term in November, 2008? Is a third term even constitutional these days? How did this happen? Where did Obama go?

Here's what we've seen since W's third term began:

- Robert Gates remained as Secretary of Defense. Despite having eight years in office, Bush successfully campaigned in 2008 under the slogan, "Change you can believe in". Showing his ability to admit he was wrong, he then reappointed one of the most controversial cabinet members in order to establish continuity in the war effort between his second and third administrations.

- We sent more troops into Afghanistan. In fact, the word "surge" is still a daily part of our war lexicon.

- $50bb to build nuclear power plants. Maybe the word "new-Q-lar" was even used. I forget. My memory has been going lately.

- Congress voted for, and the President approved, an extension of the Patriot Act set up during administration One. I'm looking forward to reading transcriptions of my private phone conversations eventually (unless the Freedom of Information Act gets repealed, which is a possibility).

- Continuity in the Treasury Department. Tim Geithner, the NY Fed Chairman under W's second administration, and a close ally during the Great Financial Collapse of 2008 of Secreatry of Treasury Paulson, is now... the Secretary of Treasury. Secretary Paulson could have kept the job but he appointed his #2 when he decided to retire to a leisurely life of bird-watching and memoir writing. Incidentally, I enjoyed his memoirs. He wrote, almost nostalgically, of the many conversations he enjoyed with both W and a young Senator from Illinois who W used to successfully transmit policy to the Democratic Party.

- Bailouts for everyone! TARP, started in 2008, has extended like a spider's web into bailouts of car companies, batches of mortgage-backed securities, and various other bailouts I'm sure we have no idea of due to the opacity of the Fed's balance sheet. Note, I'm not against this. I'm just admiring the consistency between Bush's second administration and his third.

- The Fed Rules! Princeton Professor Ben Bernanke, and Bush's former Chairman of Economic Advisers, has been reappointed as Fed Chairman. Again, I applaud the decision. It's important not to send mixed signals. Since Bush won in 2004 on a campaign of not second-guessing his choices it's good that he has remained consistent.

- Deficit Spending. Bush is a strong Keynesian advocate of deficit spending and his third administration shows no variance from these policies. In 2009, Bush at the tail end of his second administration passed a $3 trillion budget deficit. Now, for 2010, the administration (Bush III) has passed a $3.5 trillion deficit.

- Guantanamo Bay remains open for business. For a brief while it seemed like there was a faction of government that wanted to shut GBay down and start having trials of random terrorists in Main Street America. Well, Bush in his third administration has thoroughly quashed that idea.

Four administrations of FDR led to a ten year Depression, a World War with millions of lives lost, and two nuclear explosions (shortly after FDR died, but still in his 4th administration) on cities filled with civilians. During that time, FDR expanded the role of government into every aspect of our lives, tried to pack the Supreme Court, and sent millions of 18-year-olds overseas to their deaths.

I hope we eventually learn from our mistakes and decide against a fourth term for Bush. Its time to find a President who is strong on economics, strong on social issues, and has the ideological backbone to stand up for his beliefs and fulfill their dream of being real policies.