Consumer confidence has plunged to its lowest level in more than a decade, according to a Reuters report. That means it hasn't been this bad since, well, since the last time there was a President Bush in the White House.
War fears continue to drive gasoline prices higher. Unemployment continues to hover at the highest level in more than a decade. The Economic Policy Institute has reported that we are experiencing "the longest continuous stretch of job decline since 1944-46." Since March 2001, the economy has lost 2.5 million private-sector jobs.
Let's face it. Bush has been in office for more than two years, over half his term, and there are no bright spots to point to on the domestic front. The driving obsession of this administration for the past six months - at least since it became clear that Bush's tax cuts were not having the desired effect on the economy - has been in prosecuting an unprovoked conflict in Iraq. As a diversionay tactic it has worked like a charm. It largely responsible for the Republican victories in the November election fueled by "rally round the flag" sentiments. But the question that remains is what effect will the war have on the economy? I'm sure Bush's folks are hoping - betting the farm - that a quick victory in Iraq will be followed by a rebound in U.S. consumer confidence which will then drive the economy back into the black just in time for Bush's re-election campaign in 2004. Then, with a fresh mandate (who knows, maybe he will even win the election this time) and possibly a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and continued control of the House, the Republicans can finally push through their entire agenda on tax cuts, education vouchers, repealing Roe vs. Wade, filling up the federal courts with movement conservatives, elimination of environmental regulations preventing oil drilling and logging efforts, etc. A rightwinger's paradise.
Unfortunately, when this whole loopy fantasy comes crashing down, it's not going to be the wealthy Bush supporters who suffer the most. The vast majority of the Bush team never served in the military, and their children are not serving there now. They did not attend public schools and neither do their children. They live in a different world where you make a fortune by investing big piles of other people's money and then looking for ways to keep from paying taxes on it.