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Bush's 'success' just another fiction
by John Ed Pearce HERALD-LEADER CONTRIBUTING COLUMNIST
Lexington Herald-Leader
January 11, 2004

Any day now President Bush should be issuing his end-of-year, first-of-year address, a customary exercise that presidents seize upon as an occasion to speak well of themselves, the great deeds they have performed and those that are in the offing. Bush can be expected to follow suit.

Indeed, W. and his worshipful media have of late been describing his achievements as only slightly short of turning water into wine. The coming presidential election, say the seers, will be decided on the basis of two issues: the economy and the war in Iraq, and on both, Bush is riding the crest of success.

And so he is -- if you take his word for it. He points to the recovering stock market, the decrease in unemployment and the number of workers filing for jobless benefits. All this, he says, is the result of his tax policy, which put money back into the average American's pocket for spending.

Of course, as a candidate for re-election, Bush can hardly be expected to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, because the truth is that his administration has been an economic disaster. During his stint in office, 2.9 million people have lost their jobs. Nine million people are still out of work, salaries are stagnant and wages are down in terms of the 1999 dollar, while an estimated 250,000 people are not listed among the unemployed because they have quit looking for work. If Bush is going to claim credit for the sunshine, he must shoulder the blame for the rain.

Actually, his resort to what his daddy called voodoo economics has a record of failure. President Ronald Reagan cut taxes for the rich, saying they would spend the money saved to reinvigorate the economy. He got a recession. W. cut taxes for the rich in 2001, assuring us the same thing. He got a deepening recession. He cut taxes on the rich again in 2002. Same result. Undeterred, he gave the wealthy another tax gift in 2003 and crowed that the economy was recovering and proving the soundness of his tax cut policies. But unpleasant facts challenge his optimism.

Health-care costs have risen more than 13 percent, retirement plans, along with the 401(k) parachute, have been battered by the stock market collapse. Personal bankruptcies are at an all-time high. So is individual debt. Furthermore, an estimated 43 million Americans have no health insurance. More than 12 million American children live in poverty; the United States has the highest child-poverty rate of any industrialized nation.

Last year, during Bush's recovery, 1.7 million Americans slipped below the poverty line, bringing the total to 34.6 million -- one American in eight living in poverty. And the number of people receiving food assistance was 18 percent higher than in 2001, when Bush began his prosperity parade.

How has Bush responded to this vast human need? With lavish annual cuts in upper-bracket income taxes, cuts in estate taxes, elimination of taxes on dividends, tax breaks for business, vast subsidies for agribusinesses, failure to pursue corporations that take their offices offshore to avoid taxes, and greatly increasing defense spending and money for so-called homeland security.

The result is the greatest government deficit in history, which future generations will shoulder.

This is the picture Bush paints as peace, plenty and prosperity.

This is the man who promised us honesty and honor in the White House. He has given us instead deception, outright lies and dissembling. He does not deserve re-election.

John Ed Pearce can be reached by e-mail at JohnEd2@aol.com.

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