More Iinconvenient Truth-tellers
By Dan Moffett
Palm Beach Post Columnist
Sunday, July 16, 2006
may remember a portly, scholarly fellow by the name of Lawrence Lindsey
who in December 2002 probably got as famous as he's going to get.
Mr. Lindsey earned a couple of degrees in economics from Harvard,
served on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, became a favored
Republican economist during the Reagan administration and wrote a book
called The Growth Experiment: How the New Tax Policy Is Transforming the U.S. Economy that is about as far removed from beach reading as it gets.
On taking office in 2001, President Bush named the erudite Mr.
Lindsey to be his chief economic adviser as director of the National
Economic Council and assigned him the task of developing the
administration's tax-cut plan - which was pretty much already
developed, since Mr. Lindsey also had been candidate Bush's chief
What had been a cozy relationship abruptly turned marble cold on
Dec. 6, 2002, when Mr. Lindsey resigned, along with Treasury Secretary
Paul O'Neill. The president released a statement written from a
computer template that praised Mr. Lindsey as "highly talented and dedicated" and Mr. Lindsey released a soppy letter praising President
Bush but allowing that the time had come to "devote myself to other pursuits."
Assorted leaks from assorted sources attributed Mr. Lindsey's
tough-love firing to his lack of managerial skills or his inability to
communicate a coherent message of something called "the president's economic vision" to Congress.
But in reality, we now know that Mr. Lindsey had been Shinsekied.
The infinitive verb - to Shinseki - owes its origins to Gen.
Eric Shinseki, the former Army chief of staff who lost his job because
he told Congress the truth about how many troops would be needed to
occupy Iraq. He put the number at "several hundred thousand;" the White
House disagreed by more than half.
Gen. Shinseki became Mr. Shinseki in a matter of weeks. But his name
lives on. Wherever honest and courageous public servants are punished
for being right, Gen. Shinseki's memory will be invoked.
The Shinsekying of Mr. Lindsey actually predated the Shinsekying of
Gen. Shinseki by several months but was much less public and only
recently has been fully understood.
Mr. Lindsey committed the fatal error of disagreeing with the White House - in a Wall Street Journal
story, no less - over the cost of the Iraq War as the administration
was trumping up its hyperbolic case for invasion. He predicted that the
war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion; the Bush
neoconservatives put the cost at about $60 billion, and the Defense
Department's Paul Wolfowitz had the temerity to tell Congress that Iraq
could pay for much of the reconstruction bill itself by selling its oil.
Naturally, it is impossible to Shinseki anyone as wrong and
duplicitous as Mr. Wolfowitz. Mr. Lindsey lost his job for
forthrightness and accuracy, qualities that will earn you a
computer-generated farewell letter from the Bush administration.
Last week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its
analysis of the Iraq War's costs. The CBO says it has cost almost $300
billion and will total almost a half-trillion dollars even if all U.S.
troops were withdrawn by the end of 2009.
Since 2003, the government has spent $291 billion for Iraq, which
includes $45 billion from a $94.5 billion hurricane relief and war
financing measure Congress cobbled together and passed last month.
Under the most optimistic scenario - if the Pentagon is able to remove
nearly all troops from Iraq within the next three years - the CBO
estimates that the war could cost $184 billion more. If withdrawal
takes longer, the cost could easily exceed $400 billion more over the
Whatever happened to that $60 billion price tag from December 2002?
How incompetent does a government have to be to miscalculate by, oh, a
half-trillion dollars or so?
Mr. Lindsey at least saw some of this coming four years ago and tried to sound the alarm. But all that got him was Shinsekied.
BACK TO TOP
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Martin County Democratic Executive Committee has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Martin County Democratic Executive Committee endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)
"Go to Original" links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted here may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the "Go to Original" links.