The Bush Legacy: America in Decline

A few weeks ago, economists Martin Wolf and Robert Shiller appeared on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS on CNN.  They said, “It is now clear that the Obama team has helped avert a complete meltdown of our financial markets.  But they warned that one of the greatest dangers facing our nation is the growing economic disparity between the rich and the poor.”  They went on to say, “This could create a country in which not even those with a great deal of money will want to live.”

There are other troubling effects of Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation and the Republican Party’s stubborn adherence to trickle-down economics. 

Although he draws no conclusions relative to party politics, Rick Newman talks about warning signs of American decline in a story published by U.S. News & World Report.  In the story he states, “…real household income in America has flat-lined, which means many middle-class families are barely keeping up with inflation. The exploding federal deficit hamstrings the government’s ability to help. Healthcare is too expensive, America’s manufacturing base is eroding, and two open-ended foreign wars are draining the national treasury.”

Newman goes on to point out that the annual prosperity index published by Legatum Institute, a London-based research firm, now ranks the U.S. as the ninth most prosperous country in the world.  The same study ranks the United States 27th for the health of its citizens, a statistic that is all the more disturbing given the fact that we spend far more on healthcare per person than any other nation.

According to Newman’s article, the U.S. poverty rate of 17 percent ranks third worst among advanced nations above only Turkey and Mexico.  And since our future depends on the education of our youth, there is more disturbing news.  American 15-year-olds score below average among advanced nations on math and science.

There is one glimmer of positive news:  Newman points out that, according to a GfK Roper survey of how nations are viewed by others, “America rocketed from No. 7 in 2008 to No. 1 in 2009, largely because the world cheered the election of Barack Obama as U.S. president.”