Domestic Affairs Veer Right
In his first year in office, President Bush abused the Budget Act to enact a trillion-dollar regressive tax cut, followed by another, even more regressive cut in 2003. After he rolled back President Clinton's popular legacy initiatives, he mounted from November 2002 through 2004 an anti-environmental campaign, including secrecy aspects discussed in a later chapter. Bush also bent campaign finance to his service, with the anticipated yet still record scale of his 2004 fund-raising providing the engine and the discipline for his whole program.
Most astonishing, President Bush pushed the domestic agenda with little or no popular mandate to do so. Before Bush, presidents needed strong public support for ideological agendas. Ronald Reagan's large victory against President Carter in 1980—including, on Reagan's coattails, the decisive seizure of the Senate for his party for the first time since the 1950s—gave impetus to his conservative domestic programs such as cutting taxes in top brackets, chopping spending for the poor, converting the toxic waste–reducing Superfund into a party slush fund, and despoiling the West's natural resources. President George H. W. Bush in 1988 had, by contrast with his celebrated immediate predecessor, a more modest popular victory and, as to congressional coattails, barely any. His request for a modest capital gains tax cut got the congressional spurning it “richly” deserved. Quite to the contrary, he signed into law a tax increase, the Clean