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Bush Plans To Slash Popular Programs After Election
by Stewart Nusbaumer, editor of Intervention Magazine
Intervention Magazine
May 31, 2004

A leaked White House memo shows that if George Bush is re-elected, he will make large cuts in many government programs, including both homeland security and veterans programs, while again cutting the taxes of the wealthy.

Referring to America╣s war dead, President Bush told an audience at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day that "America acknowledges a debt that is beyond our power to repay." Many of the nation╣s 26 million living veterans, some of whom were wounded in wars, some of whom are old and frail, are wondering if President Bush is interested in repaying the debt owed to them. Veterans, as well as other Americans, are asking, where is George Bush's "compassionate conservatism"?

A memorandum from the White House Budget Office, recently obtained by the Associated Press from congressional sources who requested anonymity, instructs government agencies to prepare for massive cuts to domestic programs in 2006, even as the administration pushes for $1 trillion in new tax cuts.

"The ball is now out for everyone to see," said Senator Bob Graham (Democrat--Florida). "The only thing that's left in place is the part of the ball that is labeled îtax cuts for my rich friends.╣"

"The fat cats will get their tax cuts," writes Bob Herbert in The New York Times. "But in the new American plutocracy, there won't even be crumbs left over for the working folks at the bottom of the pyramid to scramble after."

"Same old Republican game," says disabled Vietnam veteran Phil Hartman. "Raise the defense budget and make military veterans pay for the cost. Ronald Reagan did the same thing. George Bush is now doing it."

Post-Election Budget

As revealed in the White House memo, with the exception of the Defense Department which would grow 5.2 percent to $422.7 billion and the Justice Department which would increase 4.3 percent to $19.5 billion, in the 2006 budget nearly every major domestic program would be slated for large decreases.

The Veterans Affairs Department budget would fall 3.4 percent from $29.7 billion in 2005 to $28.7 billion. This would include a $910 million cut to the existing veterans health care budget and a $53 million cut for the homeownership program, nearly reversing the $78 million funding increase that Bush pledged for a homeownership program in 2005.

For the last four years, the Bush Administration has been encouraging congressional Republicans to reduce veterans╣ benefits and health care; most of the time they backed down in the face of strong Democratic opposition. Now the administration seems to have switched tactics: give today to take away even more tomorrow. The 2006 budget appears to be only the beginning of the administration╣s drive to decrease the veterans╣ budget.

Presidential candidate John Kerry has strongly criticized the Bush Administration for not honoring "the national obligation" to our military veterans and promises that if he is elected there will be "a new compact with veterans" that includes fully funding the Veterans Administration.

Last year the head of the Veterans of Foreign Wars called a similar Bush Administration budget "disgraceful" and "deplorable." In the coming years, if Bush is relected, we can expect the VFW to use words like "even more disgraceful" and "even more deplorable."

Even money for domestic security at the Homeland Security Department and other agencies, a budget John Kerry has promised to increase, a budget that would seem to be immune from any cuts, would drop by 3 percent, from $30.6 billion in 2005 to $29.6 billion. As CBS╣s 60 Minutes pointed out last week, the large corporations have gotten their money for domestic security, only the States have not been paid. Time to cut the budget!

The document reveals that the Bush Administration is also ordering cuts in the following agencies: 2.4 percent less for the Education Department; 2.6 percent less for the Environmental Protection Agency; 2.1 percent for the National Institutes of Health; 1.9 percent less for the Interior Department.

Meanwhile, the Administration is requesting a $1 trillion reduction in taxes, with most of the reduction going to the wealthiest Americans.

"The only way we can even begin to pay for these huge tax cuts is by imposing cuts on critical government services," said Thomas Kahn, Democratic staff director of the House Budget Committee. "Despite [administration] denials, this memorandum confirms what we suspected all along," Kahn said. "Next February, the administration plans to propose spending cuts in key government services to pay for oversized tax cuts."

"Many of the targeted programs are widely popular," writes Alan Fram of the Associated Press. "Cuts could carry a political price for a president who has touted his support for schools, the environment and other domestic initiatives."

This revelation of the Bush Administration╣s plans to cut back on popular federal programs, programs that on the campaign trail George Bush is now supporting, is not only a political embarrassment, but a serious attack on the president's personal credibility. Plans to slash programs such as Head Start for children, homeownership, job-training, medical research and science programs, as well as homeland security and veterans programs, should come at a heavy political cost to a president whose standing in the polls continues to decline. The political cost should be his defeat in November. Stewart Nusbaumer is editor of Intervention Magazine.

You can email Stewart at Stewart@interventionmag.com

Posted: June 1, 2004


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