Friday, February 11, 2005

Gannon is the ruse; the budget is the reward. 

Gannon is front page headlines on the Dailykos while the Bush Budget that slashes social programs gets short shrift. Now if you could say that without getting tongue twisted, I'll give you this gem: Gannon may have been a deliberately planted ruse that diverts from the real issues. That's my opinion, by the way, not fact. Either way, the issue of Gannon is doing more than mastermind Rove could have possibly dreamed, to divert attention away from the budget.

I ask also, why haven't the democrats in Congress, in good conscience, signed up to repeal the tax cut?

From Ruth Coniff's blog in the Progressive:

Today is the day the President puts his money where his mouth is. In his State of the Union address last Wednesday, Bush said, "a society is measured by how it treats the weak and vulnerable."

In his $2.5 trillion budget proposal, unveiled to Congress today, he proposed slashing domestic programs that benefit the poor.

Bush's budget cuts $45 billion out of Medicaid. It cuts community development funds by 4.5 percent, and reduces the budget for the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 11.5 percent overall. It increases veterans' co-pays for prescription drugs to more than double what they pay now, and, according to The New York Times today, would ask some veterans "to pay a new fee of $250 for the privilege of using government health care."

Incredibly, in the wake of September 11, Bush also calls for a 30 percent cut in funding for the federal program that provides equipment, training, and staff to local fire departments, as well as cuts for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including a 64 percent cut to a program for training nurses and other health professionals, and a 12.6 percent to cut in bioterrorism preparedness funding.

All of this domestic cutting is supposed to calm the deficit hawks in the Republican Party and on Wall Street, who are alarmed at how this Administration has taken the federal government from surplus to record deficits in the space of four years.

But the budget leaves out all the big-ticket items, ignoring altogether the future cost of the war in Iraq and continued military operations in Afghanistan. (The White House is preparing to make another $80 billion request to fund these operations in the next few days.)

The President's budget doesn't even touch on Bush's biggest domestic-policy initiative for this term: the privatization of Social Security, and the massive borrowing necessary to get his plan for private accounts off the ground.

And Bush's budget is particularly galling given that he still plans on giving $1.8 trillion in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.

"We calculate that 257,000 American millionaires are scheduled to receive an average of $123,592 each in federal tax breaks this year," says Dr. Elizabeth A. Letzler of the group Responsible Wealth, an organization of affluent Americans who reject Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy (www.responsiblewealth.org). Letzler spoke to a group gathered at the National Press Club today. "That alone totals $32 billion," she said.

But why scale back tax cuts for millionaires when you can take the money out of Medicaid, the major health-care program for the poor?

What does Bush mean when he says our society can be measured by how we treat the weak and vulnerable?

That slapping the weak, the elderly, and the poor, while coddling the rich shows what big bullies we are?

The context for Bush's line about the weak and vulnerable was abortion and medical research. "We must strive to build a culture of life," he said in the same breath, and then thanked Congress for increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health.