One noteworthy thing about President George W. Bush's Economic Forum held in Texas yesterday: There was apparently so little worth noting about it that this morning nary a mention of the event was to be found on the main page of The Wall Street Journal's website.
According to reports, there were an ambitious eight topics covered (such as health care, corporate responsibility, economic recovery, and job creation) for 90 minutes each, with the president and Vice President Dick Cheney each attending half of them. Bush reportedly spent about 15 minutes in each session. In total, about 240 experts, executives, and ordinary citizens (but few politicians or economists) were invited to the affair.
Bush tried to instill confidence in America, saying, ''Even though times are kind of tough right now, we're America.... I'm incredibly optimistic about the future of this country because I understand the strength of this country.... We got a lot going for us.''
Wow, if that doesn't make you want to contribute more to your 401(k), nothing will. The president spends exactly two hours addressing the economic challenges facing the nation during a made-for-media event (read: lacking in substance) and tries to assure the nation by reminding us of our Manifest Destiny. Now there's leadership.
Bush also vowed to not spend the $5.1 billion that Congress had earmarked as "emergency funds," explaining that, while he agrees with some of the spending, "We won't spend $4 billion we don't need to unlock $1 billion we do need."
Democrats were not impressed. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said, "Under this administration, we've lost nearly 2 million jobs, $7 trillion in the market, and more than $5 trillion of the surplus.... A made-for-TV economic forum isn't going to solve our problems or ease families' concerns."
Once upon a time the Clinton campaign's internal slogan was "It's the economy, stupid!" We tend to blame our politicians for bad times and praise them (or ignore them) when we prosper. Yet the economy and the stock market move in cycles that more often than not are beyond Washington's control. What do you expect from our political leaders when it comes to the economy? Let us know in our poll.