The early reviews are in on the new George W. Bush administration. It has all the elements of the classic horror story: a predictable plot, familiar villains and an unshakable sense of déjà vu. On the following pages, we take a look at Bush's nominees and appointments, a diverse cast of characters in every way but ideology. Left to their own devices, this collection of unrepentant cold warriors, anti-choice extremists, Wise-Use desperados and corporate shills (as well as a couple of reasonable old-fashioned conservatives) could make for a harrowing next four years.

Can the forces of good thwart this evil plan? Well, as In These Times went to press, thousands of townspeople were taking their torches to Washington to protest Dubya's inauguration, making one thing clear: There will be no honeymoon!

Craig Aaron


Lawrence Lindsey, who has been named as President Bush's top economic adviser, is a supply-sider that progressives can live with. While he is an ardent believer in the power of markets and proponent of tax cuts, he also is willing to criticize the establishment and take the concerns of the poor seriously.

Lindsey joined the Reagan Administration in 1981 after studying economics at Harvard. He went back there to teach in 1984, before becoming a top adviser to the first Bush administration in 1989. In 1991, he was appointed as a governor of the Federal Reserve Board, where he served until 1997. In that capacity, he was consistently the most expansionary member of the board, regularly arguing that the economy could grow faster, and the unemployment rate could fall lower, than Alan Greenspan and other members of the board thought possible. Since leaving the Fed, he has worked as a consultant and maintained an affiliation with the American Enterprise Institute, a right-wing think tank.

Lindsey was the governor responsible for enforcement of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). This act is supposed to ensure that banks make loans into the communities where they draw deposits, limiting the outflow of capital from depressed areas. Enforcement of the CRA has always been minimal, but Lindsey was willing to listen to the community groups who were organizing around this issue, even if he didn't go very far in following their recommendations. Since many Republicans (and some Democrats) would like to see the CRA scrapped altogether, Lindsey's attitude is certainly a positive sign.

Lindsey's approach to the international economy may provide some grounds for optimism as well. Lindsey has been critical of the IMF-Treasury-Department-engineered bailouts in Mexico, East Asia and elsewhere. In particular, he was harshly critical of the Clinton administration's effort to crush a Japanese plan to set up an East Asian bailout fund to deal with the crisis in the region in 1997. He clearly does not feel the need to control the financial world from Washington. It is likely that he will try to implement some of the recommendations of the Meltzer Commission, which called for a scaling back of the power of the IMF and World Bank.

Domestically, it is clear that Lindsey will stand solidly behind Bush's tax cut proposal. But there may be more here than meets the eye. He has already begun selling the tax cut as a counter-cyclical demand-side policy that is needed to counteract an economic downturn. While the phased-in elimination of the inheritance tax will not stimulate the economy anytime soon (a key part of the Bush plan) a more progressive set of tax cuts would have this effect.

There is a compromise here in which there is an increase in the earned-income tax credit and a larger tax cut for moderate-income families, coupled with some tax break for the rich. This could provide an important stimulus to the economy, and a boost to many families that need extra income, even if it does lower taxes on the rich.

Nor will Lindsey be shy about pressing the Fed to lower rates to stimulate the economy. This could be very important in the next few years, as there is likely to be some inflation resulting from the decline in the dollar, which the Fed will see as a reason to keep interest rates high. Lindsey was a critic of the Clinton-Greenspan high-dollar policy, and should feel little hesitation about its abandonment. He is likely to insist that Greenspan ignore the inflation that results from the dollar's inevitable decline, and instead concentrate on maintaining high levels of growth and employment.


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