It has all the earmarks of a real problem. It comes complete with fear, threats, and evil in high places.
But, it's still a phony problem.
According to CNN, George W. Bush is submitting a budget to Congress that is, at best, misguided. Spending on the military would go up 11% (that's $481,400,000,000 for you and me) and that doesn't include the $235,000,000,000 he wants for his war in Iraq for the next 18 months. Meanwhile, $18,000,000,000 would be taken away from farmers over the next five years. Poor people would also see $12,000,000,000 taken away from Medicaid. Senior citizens would have to contend with an 8% cut in Medicare payments. In total, Bush wants to take $96,000,000,000 away from Americans over the next five years by squeezing things that matter, like Medicare, Medicaid, and farm subsidies.
Granted, a few things that matter, like schools and local governments, will get a whopping 1% increase.
But, if you consult your friendly neighborhood economist, she will tell you that, in a healthy economy, inflation will be at 3% a year. So, a 1% increase within an economy that needs to see prices go up by 3% is a nice way of saying "We're cutting your budget" without saying "We're cutting your budget."
And, here's where all of this becomes a phony problem.
It's all of our own making.
The war on terrorism is a load of malarkey. Do your homework on little ditties like Operation Ajax and you'll see why the rest of the world doesn't like us.
If other countries treated us like we treat them, we'd be insurgents, too. Suffice to say, in the Star Wars of 2007, the United States of America has become the Evil Empire that is trying to fend off the Rebel Alliance. Once we start treating our neighbors like we'd like to be treated, the whole terrorism thing is going to dry up and blow away.
But, at the core of Bush's budget is a battle over priorities. George W. Bush doesn't care about the American people.
He never has.
He never will.
Call it a Skull and Bones thing, but his actions speak volumes. "Protecting vital American interests abroad" is a nice way of saying "Your underprivileged kid is going to die for my corporate greed." If the American people mattered to George W. Bush, battalions of helicopters would have been airlifting food, water, and medical supplies to the people of New Orleans within 24 hours after Katrina. If the American people mattered to George W. Bush, every American would have access to quality health care.
If the American people mattered to George W. Bush, our kids could find Iraq on a map. If the American people mattered to George W. Bush, he'd just say "No" to the obscenely rich.
See, money is about who gets to do what. Is your quality of life going to significantly improve if your net worth goes from $20,000,000 to $50,000,000?
Is your quality of life going to significantly improve if your annual income goes from $20,000 to $50,000?
So, George W. Bush's budget is a phony problem. We can maximize the power of our tax dollars by channeling them back into programs that benefit the people who earned them, or we can throw those tax dollars out the window by handing them to the obscenely rich, who don't need them anyway.
Tim Hooker is an English professor in Tennessee. He is the author of three books: "Rocket Man: A Rhapsody of Short Stories," "Duncan Hambeth: Furniture King of the South," and "Looking For A City." His politics are progressive liberal; his (more...)