Thursday :: May 29, 2003

The News May Not Be Good for Bush, GOP


by Steve

There is so much to talk about this morning that instead of doing many posts, I am going to roll into a single multi-issue post.

First, under the latest installment of how Bush managed to withhold information once again from the American people and Congress in order to get an empirically faulty tax cut through, the Financial Times reports this morning that the post-Paul O’Neill Treasury Department (this makes John Snow a lying SOB-welcome to the gutter, Mr. Snow) and the White House intentionally shelved a report that shows how Bush’s squandering of the surpluses and his economic policies have added nearly insurmountable debt to our nation.

The study, the most comprehensive assessment of how the U.S. government is at risk of being overwhelmed by the “baby boom” generation’s future healthcare and retirement costs, was commissioned by then-Treasury secretary Paul O’Neill. But the Bush administration chose to keep the findings out of the annual budget report for fiscal year 2004, published in February, as the White House campaigned for a tax-cut package that critics claim will expand future deficits.

The study’s analysis of future deficits dwarfs previous estimates of the financial challenge facing Washington. It is roughly equivalent to 10 times the publicly held national debt, four years of U.S. economic output or more than 94 percent of all U.S. household assets. Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve chairman, last week bemoaned what he called Washington’s “deafening” silence about the future crunch.

President Bush signed into law a $350 billion tax-cut package on Wednesday saying:‘ ‘We can say loud and clear to the American people: You got more of your own money to spend so that this economy can get a good wind behind it.”

Economists Laurence Kotlikoff and Jeffrey Sachs highlighted this deception in a Boston Globe Op-Ed last week that of course got very little attention in the national media’s slavish coverage of the run-up to the inevitable passage and success for Bush in getting the tax cut.

I know this kind of deception is now commonplace for Bush, and it is not “high crimes and misdemeanors” (like an undisclosed affair apparently is), but does this kind of treachery, coming on the heels of the Iraqi treachery and other Bush deceptions not at least worthy of a Congressional censure resolution?

Second, the GOP and Bush intentionally cut the poor out of the just-signed tax cut bill’s provisions for increased child credits, in order to make the total package cost meet the already-bogus limits set by Senate moderates.

A last-minute revision by House and Senate leaders in the tax bill that President Bush signed today will prevent millions of minimum-wage families from receiving the increased child credit that is in the measure, say Congressional officials and outside groups.

Most taxpayers will receive a $400-a-child check in the mail this summer as a result of the law, which raises the child tax credit, to $1,000 from $600. It had been clear from the beginning that the wealthiest families would not receive the credit, which is intended to phase out at high incomes.

But after studying the bill approved on Friday, liberal and child advocacy groups discovered that a different group of families would also not benefit from the $400 increase — families who make just above the minimum wage.

"I don't know why they would cut that out of the bill," said Senator Blanche Lincoln, the Arkansas Democrat who persuaded the full Senate to send the credit to many more low-income families before the provision was dropped in conference. "These are the people who need it the most and who will spend it the most. These are the people who buy the blue jeans and the detergent and who will stimulate the economy with their spending."

Ms. Lincoln noted that nearly half of all taxpayers in her state had adjusted gross incomes that were less than $20,000.

This should help the Dems pick up some Red states in the South next year, shouldn’t it? And the New York Times’ Bob Herbert goes after Bush and the GOP over the tax cut.

Third, Christopher Hitchens, who was only too willing to jump aboard the “Invade Iraq to Get the WMDs and Terrorists” bandwagon, now expresses alarm at the Bush Administration’s about-face in delaying longer the transition to Iraqi control. Sorry Chris, you were duped so shut up. This, coupled with the Rummy decision to keep more troops in the country, shows that many of those who advocated for the war, including Rummy’s slapdown of General Shineski were wrong, as the NYT notes. And as the LA Times notes, we are not only in control in Iraq, we are losing control in various places and being driven out.

Fourth, as Tony Blair ventures to Iraq to meet his troops, he may find that it will be his last overseas trip as PM. Some of his own Labor MPs are now outraged to find out that Rummy admits rather cavalierly that it is entirely possible that Saddam destroyed his WMDs before the war, therefore undermining the “imminent threat” rationale the US and Blair used to justify invasion. Worse yet for Blair, the BBC reports today that Blair ordered the first draft of his WMD dossier rewritten to hype the WMD threat, even though British intelligence knew there was no data to support it. All this has led to an undermining of Blair’s credibility, not only in Parliament, but also in the British media.

Ah yes, a delicious day for news.

Steve :: 11:52 AM :: Comments (7) :: Digg It!