BARTLETT'S FIRING BY DALLAS THINK TANK CREATES NATIONAL STIR
by Scott Bennett
Fri, Oct 21, 2005, 10:37 AM
Economist Bruce BartlettBruce Bartlett, a prominent conservative economist and leading proponent of the Reagan tax cuts in the early 1980s, has been fired by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) an influential Dallas-based think tank whose top officials reportedly were unhappy with Bartlett for writing a book critical of the Bush Administration. The book, entitled The Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Administration, is scheduled to be published in April by Doubleday, according to a report in the New York Times.
Bartlett had been affiliated with the NCPA for a decade. The DallasBlog has learned that the think-tank’s founder and President, John Goodman, fired Bartlett in a one-minute conversation. Sources close to the economist say Bartlett was “surprised and disappointed” by the manner in which the firing was handled given his long-standing relationship with NCPA and Goodman. The NCPA President was in the D.C. area (where Bartlett works) at the time of the firing but didn’t meet personally with Bartlett . The firing was effective immediately, and reportedly no severance package was provided. Those same sources say Bartlett was terminated because NCPA officials were worried that some of its organization’s major donors might withhold money from the think tank because of Bartlett ’s increasingly outspoken criticism of Bush’s policies. Among the members of Goodman’s Board is Dallas Businessman and former Texas GOP Chairman and big-time Bush fund raiser, Fred Meyer.
NCPA's John GoodmanBartlett was a strong supporter of President Bush during most of Bush’s first term in office, but his views changed when the President pressured Republicans in Congress to pass his Medicare prescription bill, the first new entitlement passed since the LBJ. While Bartlett had begun to have some serious doubts about just how conservative the Bush Administration was, he kept quiet throughout the 2004 Presidential election cycle – not wanting to jeopardize George W. Bush’s re-election chances.
After the election Bartlett became outspoken in his criticism of the Bush administration. An original supporter of the war in Iraq , Bartlett joined fellow supply side economist Paul Craig Roberts as an outspoken critic of the war. Bartlett also wrote extensively about what he considered the big spending policies of the Administration and criticized what he saw as an alarming budget deficit. Recently, Bartlett he had become critical of the Harriet Miers nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The NCPA’s firing of Bartlett was prominently featured in the New York Times and that suggests the mainstream media is beginning to follow divisions within conservative ranks over Bush’s policies. While many Goldwater-Reagan traditionalists and libertarians have been critical of Bush’s policies for some time now, that group made up only a small fraction of the overall conservative movement. Now the Bush Administration is facing increasing opposition from conservative members of Congress and economists like Bartlett . Now many evangelicals have broken ranks with the Administration over the Miers Supreme Court nomination.
The Bartlett firing might have helped the NCPA keep its financial support intact, but it may also have seriously hurt its credibility as a leading conservative think tank.