I don’t know which is more disturbing, the Bush administration’s blatant disregard of the poor coupled with its obeisance to the wealthy, or the seemingly limitless indifference and gullibility of the public coupled with the pathetic acquiescence of the Democratic Party. The Bushies cut taxes, cut services to the needy and the Democrats whimper a bit while the public watches the Super Bowl and Oprah. What I fail to comprehend is why the public isn’t outraged at the clear elitism and cronyism of the Bush ensemble. The latest Bush budget is a deficit budget, of course, but more of that later. The most recent budget cuts are, for example, Medicare and a program that distributes food to the elderly. But it provides increases to the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security – at rates greater than inflation. The administration would have us believe the war on terror can be won with dollars while the 9-11 tragedy proved just the opposite. Yet defense spending mushrooms with expenditures greater than the combined spending of virtually every other nation in the world? It would be laughable if it weren’t such a tragic misuse of funds. And, as we know, the funds go largely to the corporations and Bush cronies who get rich from war.The allegiance to the military industry is so pronounced and widespread that economic sense has gone blithely out the window. Liberals are always called “tax and spend” as if this were a bad thing. I happen to believe that it is simply common sense for governments to provide services and to pay for them with available funds. Translated this means expenses ought to be balanced by income. The Bush economic mantra is, spend on subsidizing your wealthy friends’ industries and chalk it off to debt. “Debt and spend” – the new Republican mantra. Spend today; let our children and their children worry about how to repay the debt.So, here’s the plan of “the party of fiscal responsibility” for the coming year:• A $355 billion deficit budget;• A federal debt of $8.2 trillion! Yes, trillion, up from $5.5 trillion just seven years ago;• An increase in interest payments on the national debt from $350 billion to $385 billion next year;• A gap in trade and other international transactions that’s on track to reach more than $788 billion;• Massive borrowing from foreign banks.As Lewis Lapham writes:“Not too long ago, America was the world’s largest creditor; today it is the world’s largest debtor, our solvency dependent on the benevolence of foreign banks.”Would someone please explain to me and to those other Americans who are not completely inured to such concerns, how these policies can result in anything but disaster?Unfortunately, this “debt and spend” illness seems to be contagious as the American public in general spends more than it saves. I have observed friends and schools going bankrupt because of their failure to grasp the simple principle of balancing the budget. It seems so obvious as to not even bear mentioning – obvious, that is, to any sane and rational person or government.
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