Since Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s, George W. Bush was the first Republican president to earn a majority in both houses of Congress. Bush offered a $1.6 trillion tax cut measure in February 2001, using his party’s strength. Despite Democratic protests that unjustly favored the wealthy, Congress passed a $1.35 billion compromise deal in June. Control of the Senate was formally shifted to the Democrats in the same month as Republican Sen. James Jeffords abandoned his party to become independent. As a result, several of Bush’s domestic proposals faced stiff opposition in the Senate.
The economic Policy
The recession of 2001 was relatively moderate, with the unemployment rate peaking at 5.7 percent. George W. Bush put the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, the first tax cut to kick-start consumer spending. The 9/11 attacks happened before it had a chance to work. As a result, the Bush administration launched an attack on Afghanistan.
To stimulate hiring, Bush signed the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (JGTRRA) in 2003. Extended capital gains and dividends are now taxed at a rate of 15%.
Prescription Drug Program
Congress progressed the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act in 2003 under the Bush administration. Who meant the Medicare Part D prescription drug component of the program to cover prescribed drugs up to a certain point, then pay nothing up to another level (leaving seniors responsible for the cost), then Medicare would cover the rest.
Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, leaving $161 billion in damage and decreasing fourth-quarter economic growth to 1.7 percent on an annualized basis. To aid in the storm cleanup, Congress contributed $33 billion to the fiscal year 2006 budget.
War on Terror
The Bush administration declared war on terrorism shortly after 9/11 to pursue the perpetrators of the horrific assaults. But, as then-Attorney General John Ashcroft warned, the US would require extensive information-gathering tools to carry out such a complicated battle.
To coordinate terrorism intelligence, Congress passed the Homeland Security Act in November 2002. It formed a Cabinet-level department to coordinate the 22 internal security agencies.
The worldwide community has responded by forming an unusual coalition to combat international terrorism. President George W. Bush strengthened America’s homeland security and developed a global alliance in the first 100 days of the war that:
- Began to break al-grip Qaeda’s on Afghanistan by removing the Taliban from power.
- Al-global Qaeda’s operations and terrorist finance networks were disrupted.
- Al-Qaeda terrorist training camps were destroyed.
- Assisting the Afghan people in their recovery from the Taliban’s reign of terror.
- Afghans were assisted in putting aside long-standing divisions to create a new temporary administration that represents all Afghans, including women.
George W. Bush secured congressional authority to start the Iraq War in October 2002. It took place On March 19, 2003, and ended in December with the arrest of Saddam Hussein by US forces. By 2004, images of torture at the Abu Ghraib jail had surfaced, exacerbating the situation. In January 2007, the war worsened, and Bush dispatched a “surge” of extra US troops to hand over authority to Iraqi leaders.
Bankruptcy Prevention Act
George W. Bush administration passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 with minimal fanfare, making it more challenging to default on their debts. It protected corporations, but it had two significant drawbacks for consumers. To begin with, it compelled homeowners to borrow against their houses’ equity to repay their debts. As a result, default rates on prime and subprime mortgages increased to 23% and 14%, respectively. Second, consumers were burdened by the rising cost of health care, identified as the primary cause of personal bankruptcy. Because they didn’t have debt protection, some people lost their entire retirement savings and even their property to cover unforeseen medical expenses.
Bush suggested an ambitious initiative to address the humanitarian disaster produced by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in 15 African and Caribbean countries in his State of the Union speech in January 2003. The President’s Emergency Response Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), with a budget of $15 billion over five years, planned to provide life-saving treatments to 2 million HIV/AIDS patients, prevent 7 million new cases of the illness, and care for 10 million AIDS patients and orphaned children of people with AIDS. The program was enthusiastically praised in the United States, even by Bush’s detractors. It produced much goodwill in Africa for the Bush administration. Medical professionals and public health officials praised the increased availability of retroviral medications. However, they were critical of the program’s mandate that one-third of preventative funding be spent on sexual abstinence and marital fidelity education.
The Bush administration founded the Millennium Challenge Corporation in January 2004 to give development funds to impoverished nations that showed a commitment to democracy, free enterprise, and transparent governance. Because of the agency’s creative methodology, recipient countries established and administered their multi-year poverty reduction and economic growth plans. The corporation had authorized $5 billion in grant requests by 2008, albeit distributed only a tiny portion of the money.
The Bush administration’s foreign aid initiatives intend to support the administration’s stated foreign policy goal of fostering democracy worldwide, particularly in areas ravaged by poverty and violence. Bush advocated NATO membership expansion in eastern Europe to ensure democracy and stability in war-torn or formerly communist countries. During his presidency, NATO gained seven new members: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
Bush successfully negotiated legislation providing federal financing to religious, or “faith-based,” charities and social services with the Democratic-controlled Senate in December 2001. The bill would abolish long-standing government financial discrimination against churches and other religious organizations that offered critical social services in impoverished regions. Despite opposition from numerous Democratic senators, the Senate enacted the bill, although it violated the constitutional separation of religion and State. In January 2001, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives was established.
Despite having recovered from a recession in November of the previous year, the US economy struggled in 2002. Consumer concern and a lengthy downturn in the financial markets were exacerbated by widespread corporate accounting scandals, some of the worst corporate bankruptcies in US history, and worries of war and terrorism. Bush’s appeal helped Republicans reclaim the Senate majority in November 2002’s midterm elections (though the party also lost three state governorships). With both chambers of Congress under Republican control, Bush could get a $350 billion tax cut passed in May 2003.
Increased homeland security
A massive extension of executive authority that changed large parts of America’s legal environment was one of the most significant—and long-lasting—changes. Within months following the attacks, President George W. Bush had allowed domestic eavesdropping, established a new covert military trial system, and began secretly arresting men from Muslim and Arab nations. In the years afterward, attempts have been made to reverse some of these policies. Still, many post-9/11 changes have stayed in place, affecting America’s use of force overseas, immigration and surveillance laws, and the delicate balance of powers.