Columnist Bob Herbert in yesterday’s New York Times: ‘Everywhere you turn, support programs for the poor, the ill, the disabled and the elderly are under attack. Children’s services are being battered. As Mr. Bush smiles and talks about compassion, funding for programs large and small is being squeezed, cut back, eliminated.’

Like cutting out after-school programs for 500,000 kids. ‘Mr. Bush has proposed cuts in juvenile delinquency programs, public housing assistance, children’s health insurance and on and on. He’s even undermined the funding for his own highly touted school reform program, the No Child Left Behind Act,’ writes Herbert.

We are entering a period of massive budget deficits – the kind that used to worry Eisenhower and Rockefeller Republicans, but that are seen by today’s Republican leadership as a way to ease undue burdens on the rich and shrink government services for everyone else.

Reader Mike Broderick: ‘We are taking Social Security taxes (paid overwhelmingly by lower and middle-class working people) and using them to finance our deficit spree. It’s a good bet that the upper class beneficiaries of this raid on the Social Security Trust Fund won’t be willing to pay taxes to make Social Security payments when the money is needed starting in 2025 or so. The deficits caused by Bush’s current and proposed tax cuts will definitely impact most of us then.’

That’s an interesting way of looking at it: We are taking Social Security taxes (paid overwhelmingly by lower and middle-class working people) and using them to finance our deficit spree.

That Social Security ‘lock box’ candidate Bush pledged to protect? He is instead raiding it to slash taxes for the best off.

According to estimates by the Bloomberg News Service, President Bush himself will save $44,500 a year if his current tax proposal is enacted. Vice President Cheney will save $327,000 a year.

The Clinton/Gore slogan, was: Save Social Security First. Don’t squander the surplus.

The unspoken Bush/Cheney slogan is: Save the Rich from Their Crushing Tax Burden.

Candidate Bush promised over and over we could do it all: Protect Social Security, provide prescription drug benefits, build up the military, slash taxes for those who were already doing best. A near plurality of the voters took him at his word, and a Republican Supreme Court put him over the top.

Yet now we face what could easily be half-trillion dollar annual budget deficits.

The justification is that by ‘letting people keep more of their own money,’ the economy will get a boost that will create jobs. Dick Cheney will hire 10 more butlers and maids. Or he’ll buy 10 new American-made cars each year, or 500 refrigerators. Or he’ll start a new business from an undisclosed location.

Whatever he does with the money, runs the reasoning, will be better than employing people to run after-school programs for at-risk kids.

(It’s less clear what the five principal heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune will do with the estimated $197 million in tax savings they would reap each year if the tax on dividends is eliminated. To make up the revenue, we could always just cancel more programs for kids, or go that much deeper into debt.)

The Bush plan is to rack up huge deficits now and let future generations worry about shortfalls in Social Security and Medicare, and the consequences of under-funding care for millions of at-risk kids. James Carville calls this taxation without representation. The people who will bear the cost are too young to vote or not yet alive.

Spread the word.

[And speaking of words, here’s one: SCUPIDITY – Forgetting to wish your loved one a Happy Valentine. Don’t be scupid!]

 

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