Bush, Obama, and the 'socialist' label

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By Colbert I. King
Saturday, November 27, 2010

Exactly two years ago today, an Associated Press headline read: "World economy shaky despite massive bank rescues." The story was about the U.S. government's decision to rescue banking giant Citigroup.

Economic conditions at home and abroad were the worst since the Great Depression. The outlook was so dire that the U.S. Treasury secretary pressured high-profile giant American banks to sell shares to the federal government as part of a financial rescue package - a Washington action until then unimaginable.

Yet the vilification of President Obama as a socialist began before he had fully unpacked at the White House. It has been relentless ever since, even though the charge misrepresents the truth.

Said Rush Limbaugh on Fox's "Sean Hannity" program on Jan. 22, 2009, just two days after Obama took the oath of office: "So I shamelessly say, no, I want him to fail. . . . Why would I want socialism to succeed?

Six months later, Sarah Palin weighed in on "Hannity": "Our country could evolve into something we do not even recognize. . ." Hannity interrupted her: "Socialism?" Palin: "Well, that's where we are headed."

Listening to those rantings, one might think Obama's entry into the White House was the dawn of the attack on American free enterprise.

Alas, some memories seem to fade with time - or succumb to political opportunism and the urge to lie.

History tells another story.

The architects of that breathtaking marketplace intrusion in 2008 were President George W. Bush and his Treasury secretary, Hank Paulson. And the Republican administration didn't stop there.

Watching the continuing economic meltdown, Bush launched another leap into the free market. In the name of protecting jobs and essential industries, Bush orchestrated a bailout of the auto industry. By the time Bush handed over the reins to Obama in January 2009, Washington had massively intervened in the U.S. economy.

The TARP that Tea Party members fulminate about? That's the Troubled Assets Relief Program, a multibillion-dollar Bush baby, used by the feds to purchase stock in banks and to acquire assets from sick financial institutions. TARP funds were also used to support the car industry. In fact, Bush issued an executive order that allowed the Treasury secretary to spend TARP funds on anything he deemed necessary to avert a financial crisis.

And Bush and Paulson weren't the only champions of bailing out Wall Street and Detroit.

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