President Bush said Friday that he has a lot in common with Abraham Lincoln--but there are some important differences, as well.
When asked at a press conference how he could justify having reversed his pledge of “no new taxes,” Bush shot back: “I’m doing like Lincoln did--'think anew.’ ”
His reference was to a passage from the Great Emancipator’s second annual message to Congress in 1862: “The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion,” Lincoln said. “As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”
Like Lincoln, Bush has been plagued with an ever-growing federal budget deficit. In the Lincoln era, the government’s red ink rose from $25 million in fiscal 1861 to $964 million in fiscal 1865. During the years that Bush has been either vice president or President, the deficit has soared--from $78.9 billion in fiscal 1981 to $152.1 billion in fiscal 1989. And it is climbing again.
But there are also some differences: Lincoln’s mushrooming deficit stemmed from expenses incurred in fighting the Civil War, while Bush is enjoying unprecedented peace worldwide.
And “Honest Abe” never pledged that he would not raise taxes.