Texas -- My fellow Americans, the state of the
union's finances is enough to make an Enron accountant
gag. When George W. Bush took office, he was handed
a going concern. Projected annual surpluses from
2002 to 2011 were $5.6 trillion. In its most recent
projection, the Congressional Budget Office says
it expects $1.4 trillion in total deficits from
2004 to 2013. Bush's new future spending proposals
-- including everything from the goofy manned-flight-to-Mars
to the promotion of marriage -- already total
an additional $2 trillion.
Bush took office, the national debt was $5.7 trillion
and his first budget proposed to reduce it by
$2 trillion over the next decade. Today, the debt
is $7 trillion. Last year, Bush predicted a deficit
of $262 billion. According of the CBO, the deficit
is currently $480 billion. Bush plans to cut biomedical
research, health care, job training and veterans
funding, and that still leaves a projected deficit
of $450 billion.
is unclear to me why anyone would believe anything
the president says about our fiscal situation.
Keep in mind, this is a man who took three Texas
oil companies into bankruptcy.
anticipate a painful skewing of the statistics
on jobs, but there's not much even the finest
spinners can do with the basic problem. Under
Bill Clinton, the economy gained an average of
236,000 jobs every month. Under George W. Bush,
the economy has lost an average of 66,000 jobs
a month. Nor is the news getting better. Last
month, the economy, supposedly in full recovery,
added 1,000 jobs. The economy needs to generate
150,000 jobs a month just to absorb new workers.
only are the 2 million jobs we have already lost
not coming back, but the trend will continue.
The lead story in Monday's Wall Street Journal
is about IBM's plan to shift 3,000 high-paying
jobs overseas, known as "off-shoring." We are
not just hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs. As the
Journal reports, "This 'off-shoring' process has
raised fears that even high-skill jobs that were
supposed to represent the U.S.'s future are being
lost to countries that have already taken over
low-skill factory work." In the other words, your
nice, middle-class butt is on the line here.
are, of course, some jobs that cannot be exported
-- farms cannot be moved to another country, nor
can restaurants. So the president proposes a giant
new bracero program to import foreign workers
legally to fill those jobs. As Jamie Galbraith
wrote in Salon, the online magazine: "There is
no reason to believe the Bush administration's
hand-wringing over its pathetic record on employment.
The president's backers want a stagnant job market
-- it keeps the help from getting uppity."
another sign of how deeply Bush cares about workers,
the plan to end overtime pay for millions of workers
is back. You may recall this little charmer from
last year, the Bush proposal to "update" the Fair
Labor Standards Act. Both the House and the Senate
nixed the idea by passing an amendment proposed
by Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, but in the magic way
of the Republican-run Congress, the amendment
was later dropped from a spending bill after heavy
pressure from the White House.
in another move typical of the administration,
they plan to bypass Congress altogether and issue
the new regulations as an "administrative rules
change," to go into effect in March. The administration
claims the new regulations will extend overtime
pay to an additional 1.3 million low-income workers.
That would certainly be a good thing, except for
the fact that it would exempt another 8 million
workers from getting overtime by reclassifying
them as management or professionals. Another great
deal for the corporations -- they get to cut overtime
for a lot of higher-paid workers and only have
to add a few lower-paid workers. Do you really
have any doubts about whom this administration
is being run for?
will of course have to listen to the president
tell us how wonderful his Medicare drug coverage
bill is. I thought there could be no more masterly
dissection of that fraud than the one in the current
issue of Harper's magazine, in which Lewis Lapham
takes the repulsive thing apart. His incisive
essay is a model of legislative analysis that
should be studied by all political writers. But
he actually missed one item found by The Wall
said late last year, "If there's a Medicare reform
bill signed by me, corporations have no intention
to dump retirees (from existing drug coverage).
... What we're talking about is trust." The bill
includes a special tax subsidy to encourage employers
to retain prescription drug coverage for their
retirees. But, oops, the Journal reports the White
House quietly added "a little-noticed provision"
to the bill that allows companies to severely
reduce or almost completely terminate their retirees'
drug coverage without losing out on the new subsidy.
And guess what? The major backers of that "little-noted
provision" are all major donors to Bush and the
Republican Party. It's not about trust, it's about
Posted: January 23, 2004