Get your Treasury files while they’re hot!

Politics | Access/Network

Timothy Noah, in this Thursday’s Chatterbox column for Slate, alerted readers to the Ron Suskind’s initial release of The Bush Files, an online archive of the source documents for his bestselling book, The Price of Loyalty. (This is the book about the Bush White House from Paul O’Neill’s point of view, sourced in part on 19,000 documents which had been released to the O’Neill, while he was still Treasury Secretary). Here’s Noah’s appraisal:

Suskind says that this trove—a sort of “The Smoking Gun” for policy wonks—will eventually include many newsworthy documents that, due to constraints of time and narrative, he failed to use in his 328-page book. As with these initial 20 documents, they will cover all aspects of government policy, not just economic matters.

The first glimpse in Chatterbox brought up some statements from Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, which Noah thought wouldn’t look out of place in The Nation. Noah then promised more fishing. I took his bait to help out as well. There’s a lot of foul-smelling things in here, though some thing which may sound surprising to the casual reader will be obvious to beat reporters.

What I thought I found something interesting was the talking point issued from assistant secretary Michele Davis (presumably from Rove/Hughes) after just the first month of the Bush administration: “Spending grew 8% last year — that’s a recipe for waste.” This candid attitude shouldn’t have surprised me; after some research, I found that it was what the President himself articulate the next month in his weekly radio address:

There’s a lot at stake here. Last year, federal discretionary spending grew at a massive 8 percent. If this spending spree were to continue, we would drain the surplus by funding a permanently larger government. This would be bad for the taxpayer, and bad for the economy. It would make significant debt reduction and tax relief much more difficult.

Well, Bush infamously “hit the jackbot” that year with war, recession, and national emergency. Nonetheless, as the reported in the Washington Post reported, nondiscretionary spending grew at 27 percent over the course of the last two years. That hasn’t happened since 1966-68.

Today on his long-awaited Meet the Press appearance, Bush blamed the Congress for adding spending increases. Funny, how the President had campaigned on the fact that he successfully worked with a Democrocatic Legislature in Texas. Now he can’t even get the Republican Congress to fall in line on the issue which most clearly defines his party.

Meanwhile, the O’Neill files may continue to be slow-released over the course of the 2004 campaign…