+ THE TAX CUT
A huge political victory that also pumped nearly $40 billion into a sagging economy. But the massive long-term cost will sharply constrain Bush's future agenda.
+ RESPONSE TO SEPT. 11
The eco team helped get financial markets back in business in less than a week and cracked down on worldwide sources of terrorist funding.
- STIMULUS PACKAGE
It turned into a hodgepodge of badly targeted, ill-timed initiatives, and the White House could not cut through the political squabbling to win passage.
A low-key approach to economic reform in Japan failed as badly as the Clintonites' public hectoring. And O'Neill's efforts to signal displeasure with Tokyo backfired.
+/- GLOBAL ECONOMICS
Mixed messages turned efforts to reform the IMF into a muddle. Bushies vowed to end old-style bailouts but backed them anyway.
- ENTITLEMENT REFORM
Handpicked commission couldn't find a fix for Social Security. Medicare reform is on hold. Resurgent deficits will stymie reform efforts for years.
The slump was beyond Bush's control. On balance, his policies helped soften the blow. But he could have pressed for quicker action on stimulus, airport security, and terrorism insurance.