BUSH’S DOMESTIC AGENDA
Breaking Promises. During the 2000 campaign, George Bush promised the American people that, if elected president, he would never revert to deficit spending and elevate the nation’s $5 trillion debt.
When Bush called for deficit spending after 9/11, he had falsely claimed during the 2000 campaign that his campaign promise had been to balance the budget – unless the nation went into war or into an economic tailspin.
Bush boasted that he would be fiscally sound and frequently blamed the growing bureaucracy in Washington on Democrats. Yet, in his first three years, Bush increased federal spending 21 percent. (Time, September 15, 2003
On February 25, 2002, Bush spoke of his support for a tax credit for buying hybrid automobiles. During the campaign, he mocked Al Gore’s “targeted” tax credits, including one for such vehicles. Bush said laughingly, “How many of you own hybrid electric-gasoline engine vehicles?” (Washington Post, March 25, 2002)
In April 2002, Bush tried to manipulate figures to indicate that the country was not falling into deficit spending. The administration made plans to shift billions of dollars in civil service retirement funds to prevent the federal government from defaulting on payments to bondholders. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill temporarily moved money from the government-securities retirement fund into non-interest-bearing accounts. His plan was to eventually repay it back with interest around April 18, after tax money began to come in. (Washington Post, April 2, 2002)
Bush erroneously claimed that it was offering broad tax relief for working families. Treasury Secretary O’Neill declared that the plan “would focus on helping those people who are close to the low-income and middle-income brackets.” He added, “It would affect every American that currently pays taxes.”
On September 16, 2002, Bush said, “One of the ways we’ve got to make sure that we keep our economy strong is to be wise about how we spend our money. If you overspend, it creates a fundamental weakness in the foundation of economic growth. And so I’m working with Congress to make sure they hear the message -- the message of fiscal responsibility.”
Less than 6 months after this pronouncement, Bush proposed a budget that would put the government more than $300 billion into deficit. As National Journal noted on February 12, 2002, Bush’s own 2004 budget tables showed that without Bush’s tax and budgetary prposals, the deficit would decline after 2006, but with Bush’s proposals the deficit would grow indefinitely.
Bush’s $1.35 trillion tax package for the wealthy. In 2001, Bush’s first economic package in 2001 called for a 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut which actually totaled $1.9 trillion, when interest costs were factored into the estimate. Under his proposal, the top one percent would receive $39,000 each and approximately 40 percent of the overall tax cut. According to a Treasury Department study, the top one percent of the population under existing law paid 20 percent of all federal taxes.
1. Citizens for Tax Justice projected that the richest one percent of taxpayers would net $774 billion; the poorest 20 percent would receive on average a $15 tax cut the first year and $37 by 2004. The 20 percent of taxpayers in the middle of the income distribution scale would pocket an average of $170 in tax cuts, rising to $409 in 2004. The average cut to the top 1 percent of taxpayers would be $13,469 in 2002 and $31,201 in 2004. The Bush plan would give 43 percent of all the tax relief to the richest one percent of the people.
2. A study by the Brookings Institution concluded that the White House and the Congressional Budget Office’s surplus projection would drop by $700 billion -- from $5.6 trillion to $4.9 trillion in real money. If the GDP remained unchanged, that projection would drop to $4.3 trillion (Washington Post, May 15, 2001)
3. The CBO concluded that middle-class America would not benefit as much as Bush had promised.
4. Bush’s plan was not only irresponsible but that the president used dishonest tactics during his sales pitch. Bush radically understated the cost of their plan, while overstating the money available to pay that cost. He used low estimates regarding the budgetary impact of the tax cut. The ten-year budget cost of the Bush tax was $2.5 trillion -- not the $1.6 trillion that Bush had said. (Paul Krugman, Fuzzy Math)
Bush’s $350 billion tax package for the wealthy. Bush originally asked for an economic package amounting to $726 billion. Eventually, received less than half of that.
At the heart of Bush’s proposal was the elimination of dividend taxation that would save approximately $364 billion over 10 years. Bush claimed more than half of all taxable dividends was paid to people 65 and older. He said their average saving from eliminating the tax on dividends would be $936; that 60 percent of people receiving dividends had incomes of $75,000 or less; and that up to 60 percent of corporate profits were lost to income taxes paid by either the companies or the stockholders.
However, only slightly more than one-quarter of Americans 65 and older received dividends. Two-thirds of the dividends the elderly received were paid to the 9 percent of all elderly who had incomes over $100,000. Sixty-four percent of those who received dividends would go to the top 5 percent of Americans, and 42 percent would go to the top 1 percent. (New York Times, February 25, 2003)
Bush boasted that 92 million Americans would receive an average tax reduction of $1,083, and 1.4 million new jobs would be created by the end of 2004. Treasury Secretary John Snow boasted that Bush’s tax package would create 450,000 jobs by the end of 2003 – and another 2 million jobs by the end of 2004. (New York Times, February 25, 2003)
1. The Council of Economic Advisers objected to Bush’s claim that 1.4 million jobs would be created. The council projected that the original Bush plan would create 510,000 new jobs over the last eight months of 2003. The employment level would only be 192,000 jobs higher than it would be without the proposal. (New York Times, May 12, 2003)By the end of 2003, Americans lost 2 million jobs. He was the only president since World War II with the notoriety of losing jobs:
Truman: 60,000 jobs gained per month; Eisenhower: 58,000 jobs gained per month; Kennedy: 122,000 jobs gained per month, then they murdered him; Johnson: 206,000 jobs gained per month; Nixon: 129,000 jobs gained per month; Nixon/Ford: 105,000 jobs gained per month; Carter: 218,000 jobs gained per month ; Reagan: 109,000 jobs gained per month; George Herbert Bush: 52,000 jobs gained per month; Clinton: 242,000 jobs gained per month.
George W. Bush: 69,000 jobs LOST per month.
1. The Center on Budget and Policy Priority said Bush’s tax cut as calculated over 10 years would lead to a loss of $800 billion for the Treasury. (Center on Budget and Policy Priority, May 23, 2003)
2. The Congressional tax staff estimated that the package would lead to a tax cut of $61 billion in the 2003 fiscal year, whereas the CBO reported that it would have lowered taxes by $35 billion in 2003 and $117 billion in 2004. (Center on Budget and Policy Priority, May 23, 2003)
3. The Urban Institute and Brookings Institution and the Tax Policy Center concluded that Americans earning more than $1 million would see their after-tax income increase by $88,873 on average, or 3.9 percent. Those earning below $40,000 would have average after-tax increases in income of 0.1 percent to 1.0 percent. The top one percent of earners would get 28 percent of the benefit of Bush's proposal, while the top 10 percent would get 59 percent of the breaks and the bottom 60 percent would get 8 percent of the total. Sixty-four percent of the benefits would go to the wealthiest 5 percent of taxpayers. The average tax cut from the dividend exclusion would be $29 for those with incomes of $30,000 to $40,000 and $51 for taxpayers with incomes of $40,000 to $50,000. On the other hand, two-tenths of 1 percent of tax filers with incomes over $1 million -- who had 13 percent of all income -- received 21 percent of all dividends. For taxpayers with incomes of $200,000 to $500,000, the typical tax cut from the exclusion was calculated at $1,766. (Washington Post, January 7, 2003; New York Times, February 25, 2003)
4. Citizens for Tax Justice concluded that half of all taxpayers would get a cut of less than $100 a year this year and that by 2005, three-quarters would get less than $100. On the other hand, almost two-thirds of all the tax savings will go to the wealthiest 10 percent of taxpayers, and the richest 1 percent will get an average tax reduction of nearly $100,000 a year. (New York Times, June 22, 2003)
5. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, roughly half the money would go to people earning over $350,000 a year, to the top one percent of Americans. The 80 percent of households earning less than $73,000 a year would get less than 10 percent of this stimulant. Citing calculations by the Tax Policy Center, Senate Minority Leader Daschle said that a person making more than $1 million a year would save $24,000 in taxes under Bush’s plan, while a person earning from $40,000 to $50,000 a year would save only $76. (New York Times, January 4, 2002)
6. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities called Bush’s statement, that the tax cuts would benefit all Americans, as “not accurate.” In addition, the Tax Policy Center, a research arm of the conservative Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that 8.1 million people who owe taxes would have received no tax cut from the Bush proposal. The two think tanks also said that these Americans would not receive a break from the economic package. Almost all of these were either single people with no children and no dividends or capital gains who were already in the 10 percent tax bracket, or else those with “head of household” filing status whose dependent was not a child under 17. (New York Times, June 22, 2003)
7. Citizens for Tax Justice concluded that half of all taxpayers would get a cut of less than $100 a year this year and that by 2005, three-quarters would get less than $100. On the other hand, almost two-thirds of all the tax savings will go to the wealthiest 10 percent of taxpayers, and the richest 1 percent will get an average tax reduction of nearly $100,000 a year. Roughly half the money would go to people earning over $350,000 a year, to the top one percent of Americans. The 80 percent of households earning less than $73,000 a year would get less than 10 percent of this stimulant. (New York Times, June 22, 2003)
8. Conservative Goldman Sachs estimated a deficit of $4.5 trillion over 10 years. If Social Security receipts were not used, the tax cut would run up at $7.1 trillion deficit.
9. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated a $4 trillion deficit. (Newsweek, July 7, 2003)
10. Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, predicted that struggling state governments would be particularly hurt by the plan. He warned that states would lose between $4 billion and $5 billion annually in dividend receipts if dividends were no longer reported to the federal government. (Washington Post, January 7, 2002)
11. Bush actually raised taxes on some Americans that netted the federal government approximately $32 billion. Taxes were hiked on Americans working overseas. Bush’s proposal terminated a long-standing tax break that allowed individuals to exclude up to $80,000 and couples up to $160,000 in annual income. The IRS was permitted to hire private collection agencies to recover debts -- estimated at nearly $1 billion -- over a span of 10 years. Owners of patents or other “intellectual property” had tax deductible donations limited. (USA Today, May 8, 2003)
The average tax cut was more than $1,000, because a few rich taxpayers received large reductions. For households with incomes over $200,000, the average cut was $12,496. The average for those with incomes over $1 million was $90,222. More than two-thirds of the benefits in the economic package was funneled to the richest one percent of United States taxpayers. (www.gomemphis.com, March 27, 2003)
Bush failed to say was that half of all income-tax payers would have their taxes cut by less than $100 – and that 78 percent would get reductions of less than $1,000. (New York Times, February 25, 2003)
Bush’s record deficit spending and a $7 trillion debt. Bush inherited a $335 billion surplus from President Clinton. Within three years, he went to a record deficit of $542 billion. That was a swing of $877 billion. Bush increased the national debt to a record $7.4 trillion.
Bush’s fiscal 2003 budget called for a deficit of over $160 billion. Attempting to soften the blow, the White House projected a $1 trillion total budget surplus over the following ten years. However, the administration remained silent on claims that all of the surplus would be due to Social Security and that the budget outside Social Security would run a $1.5 trillion deficit over this period.
The Bush tax cut increased the deficit for the $2.25 trillion fiscal 2004 budget. Approximately one-third of the deficit, or $114-billion, and about $33-billion of the 2003 deficit was a result of Bush’s tax package.
Bush’s war against Iraq in early 2003 further increased the deficit for fiscal 2004. The $455-billion deficit did not include the costs of the United States occupation of Iraq that was running at $4 billion a month. The $87 billion Iraqi reconstruction package increased the deficit to $542 billion. (Los Angeles Times, July 17, 2003)
AN ASSAULT ON SOCIAL PROGRAMS
Social Security. Bush boasted that he would revise the Social Security system and would allow payees to invest a portion in the stock market. However, statistics indicated that the market would be flatter in the future. Projections showed that by the mid-2000s, economic growth would slow to less than 2.5 percent annually. (Boston Globe, July 8, 2001)
Bush’s “privatization” plan presented the possibility of individuals making bad investment decisions, particularly in a bear market. Even in a severe recession, Social Security had been recession-proof. As long as one lived, he or she had been guaranteed Social Security checks. The system had always been indexed for inflation, and it also had insured against the early death of the recipient. (Boston Globe, July 8, 2001)
Bush failed to mention that baby boomers -- no matter how well they invested -- would collect retirement benefits almost certainly no greater than they presently received and likely much lower. The problem would arise when the baby boom generation -- the 76 million Americans born from 1946 to 1964 -- retired and had to rely for support on the smaller generation that would follow. In 2000, experts foresaw 2037 as the year when payroll tax revenue, coupled with the Social Security system’s currently building surpluses, would no longer cover the costs of promised benefits.
According to the 2001 Social Security trustees’ report, Bush’s program would begin running a cash deficit in 2007, nine years earlier than envisioned. By 2015, the deficit would be 16 percent of projected benefits. By 2035, 37 percent. (Newsweek, July 2, 2001)
As the economy continued to slide through the summer of 2002, Bush downplayed his privatization proposal. Even some of Bush’s fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill questioned the wisdom to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in the volatile stock market. Several GOP incumbents and challengers in the 2002 November midterm election opposed Bush’s plan to partially.
Prior to the election, Democrats launched a campaign to convince seniors that Bush’s policy would jeopardize Social Security. In response, the GOP instructed incumbents and challengers to refuse to talk about privatization and to avoid staking out specific solutions to shore up Social Security.
Health care. As a presidential candidate, Bush called health care access for all working families “a goal worthy of our nation.” He reneged on his promise to provide health insurance to the nation’s poor. The administration promised to set aside $28 billion to help the nation’s 40 million-plus uninsured by expanding a program for children in low-income families. (Los Angeles Times, August 24, 2001)
In August 2001, Bush proposed to roll back some of the protections for Medicaid recipients that President Clinton had put in place on the day before he left office in January 2001. The new rules set standards gave Medicaid recipients many of the same rights guaranteed to people in private health plans under legislation passed. Patients had a right to emergency care whenever and wherever the need arose. They had direct access to certain medical specialists. Medicaid recipients could appeal the denial of care or coverage by an HMO. While Clinton said such appeals must be resolved within 30 days, Bush allowed 45 days. In urgent situations, the Clinton set a 72-hour deadline for HMOs to rule on appeals, while Bush allowed three working days. (New York Times, August 16, 2001)
On January 29, 2003, Bush said, “Within that budget I proposed last night is a substantial increase in Medicare funding of $400 billion on top of what we already spend, over the next 10 years.” Under Bush’s proposal, there was a $40 billion increase in Medicare each year for a decade. However, Bush’s 2004 budget proposed just $6 billion. That was 85 percent less than what would be needed to meet his goal. Additionally, his budget left 67 percent of the total $400 billion pledge to be spent after 2008.
During Campaign 2002, Bush pledged to bring Democrats and Republicans together by enacting a bipartisan “Patient’s Bill of Rights.” He reneged on his promise. He objected to the high caps on lawsuits and the full right to sue HMOs. He wanted to cap damages for pain and suffering at $500,000, allowing no punitive damages to be awarded, and he demanded that virtually all cases heard in federal court.
In 2000, the $100-billion-a-year pharmaceutical industry contributed $4.4 million to Bush and the Republican Party. Once this sector helped get Bush elected, pharmaceutical companies pressed the administration to select one of their own to head the FDA.
Bush reneged on is promise for free prescription drugs to the nation’s elderly who earned under $10,000 annually. He proposed spending $12 billion in each of the four years in his administration. That amounted to $48 billion in grants to the states for drug coverage. In March 2001, Bush unveiled a plan to provide billions of dollars to the states to help nearly only 25 percent of the 39 million Medicare beneficiaries buy prescription drugs. Subsidized drug coverage would be offered to people with annual incomes up to 75 percent above the poverty level. Yet, one-third of all Medicare recipients had no coverage for prescription drugs. (New York Times, January 31, 2001)
Bush’s plan for Medicare + Choice resembled an HMO. Under this plan, federal funds would be used to provide prescription drugs. A GAO study in 2000 found that Medicare + Choice cost the government more than if members were treated under the regular Medicare program. (Newsweek, June 9, 2003)
Bush’s proposed Enhanced Medicare would be available for affluent seniors. The government would provide funds for a preferred-provider organization (PPO) that would provide prescription drugs. (Newsweek, June 9, 2003)
Medicare’s overhead costs ran at 2 percent, while Medicare HMOs ran at 15 percent. Private plans were higher, since they deal in profits, have extensive paperwork and relatively high salaries. (Newsweek, June 9, 2003)
The 2003 Medicare law.
The Bush administration’s goal was to shift Medicare from a public program to a private one, with the government’s contribution capped. The bill specifically restricted initiatives designed to get the best care at the lowest cost. On the other hand, HMOs and the pharmaceutical giants reaped the benefits of the GOP-sponsored legislation.
The cost of the Medicare legislation could cost $2 trillion over 20 years as a result of Bush’s record-smashing deficits. (Washington Post, December 6, 2003)
In November 2003, the Medicare bill squeaked through in the House (220-215) and the Senate (54-44):
1. The Bush administration refused to confront the pricing power of drug companies. Pharmaceutical companies could sell more drugs at prices they set. As a result, the government would be billed at exorbitant prices, and the new $40 billion a year in benefits would cover only a fraction of consumers’ drug expenses. (Boston Globe, November 20, 2003)
2. Consumers still were forced to pay the highest drug prices in the world. The legislation prevented the importing of high-quality prescription drugs from Canada, where price controls held costs down to dramatically lower levels than in the United States. The lower prices available in Canada offered a tremendous savings over United States retail prices -- as much as 80 percent for some medicines. (USA Today, November 20, 2003; Madison Capital Times, November 20, 2003)
3. Seniors needed to wait until 2006 to have access to prescription drug coverage. The drug coverage was provided by private insurers -- not the government. The coverage applied between $251 and $2,250 in drug expenses; then terminated between $2,251 and $5,100 in total costs; then resumed after $5,100. Seniors with drug costs as high as $5,000 would pay $4,000 out of pocket. One who spent $800 annually on prescriptions could actually lose money by participating -- through a combination of copayments, monthly premiums, and a $250 deductible. (Los Angeles Times, November 26, 2003; www.newsday.com, November 26, 2003)
4. The legislation actually reduced drug benefits for people on Medicaid and those with private retiree coverage. (Boston Globe, November 20, 2003)
5. Under the formula, if one incurred $3,600 of annual drug costs, the program would cover only $1,285. Then it would cover 95 percent after $3,600. However, many seniors would not participate at all because they could mot afford the upfront costs. (Boston Globe, November 20, 2003)
6. Seniors could not buy insurance to cover their share of prescription drug costs beginning in 2006. Beneficiaries would be responsible for a $250 deductible, 25 percent of drug costs from $251 to $2,250, and all of the next $2,850 in drug costs. However, a little-noticed provision of the legislation prohibited the sale of any private insurance for prescription drugs to help pick up what Medicare would not cover. (New York Times, December 6, 2003)
7. It limited the ability of Medicare administrators to create programs, based on the Canadian model, to force reductions in prices imposed by United States drug companies. (USA Today, November 20, 2003; Madison Capital Times, November 20, 2003)
8. Congress proposed billions of tax dollars for initiatives, hoping to force seniors and the disabled into HMOs. The bill took away the ability of these Americans to choose their own doctors and to play a role in defining the type of care that was best for them. (USA Today, November 20, 2003; Madison Capital Times, November 20, 2003)
9. The legislation subjected poorer seniors to an assets test and raises Medicare premiums for middle- and upper-income seniors. It authorized “experiments” in six metropolitan areas, where private insurers subsidized by the government could lure healthy seniors away from traditional Medicare. However, past experiments with Medicare HMOs demonstrated that they were inefficient. Consequently, the sickest patients returned to traditional Medicare. (Boston Globe, November 20, 2003)
10. Hospitals and doctors received additional payments. Insurance companies also benefited. Corporations that paid health benefits to retirees received new tax breaks worth $18 billion. (Boston Globe, November 20, 2003)
11. The law gave private insurance companies $14 billion in incentives and risk-sharing payments to compete against one another and the government for seniors’ health-care business. (Los Angeles Times, November 26, 2003)
12. The expansion of health savings accounts generated tax-free earnings, resulting in more employers moving away from traditional benefits packages to high-deductible, catastrophic coverage. (Los Angeles Times, November 26, 2003)
13. The legislation provided for the annual indexing of Medicare premiums and deductibles to inflation. (Los Angeles Times, November 26, 2003)
14. It required wealthier seniors -- earning more than $80,000 a year -- to pay higher premiums than others for outpatient medical services. (Los Angeles Times, November 26, 2003)
15. The law included $30 billion in increased Medicare payments to doctors, hospitals, and other health-care providers. About two-thirds of that money benefited providers in rural areas. Employers and unions received $71 billion in subsidies and $15 billion in tax breaks to encourage them to continue providing health benefits to their retirees. (Los Angeles Times, November 26, 2003)
16. The American public was told that the bill would cost $400 billion over 10 years. But tax breaks for businesses and individuals would drive the $400 billion figure higher. Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin told lawmakers it would cost between $1.7 trillion and $2 trillion in the second decade after the baby boomers start to retire in 2011. (USA Today, November 20, 2003; Boston Globe, November 20, 2003)
David Halbert, a longtime friend and contributor to several of Bush’s campaigns, helped craft the portion of the Medicare bill that allowed seniors to buy discount drug cards they could use to purchase medicine from May of 2004 until 2006, when the prescription drugs would begin to be covered by Medicare. Halbert’s company, Irving, Texas-based AdvancePCS, was one of the nation’s largest pharmacy benefit management companies that was lined up to compete for Medicare’s endorsement to issue the discount cards. (Boston Globe, December 12, 2003)
The pharmaceutical industry succeeded in blocking price controls in the United States. The sector refused to stop there. It launched a drive to terminate price controls overseas. In talks over a free trade agreement with Australia, American officials lobbied to water down the system under which the Australian government negotiated the prices it paid for prescription drugs. (Washington Post, November 27, 2003)
Prescription drugs. In July 2001, Bush announced his plan to provide prescription drug discount cards. He tried to sell his proposal by claiming that the cards would only cost the elderly a dollar or two a month. In his speech, Bush vowed to “expand coverage” so that “all the Medicare plans must offer benefits at least as comprehensive” as the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. Bush’s proposal was merely an empty gesture, providing no real relief to America’s seniors
Bush tried to sell his proposal by claiming that the cards would only cost the elderly a dollar or two a month. He did not intend to -- or he was unable to -- allocate any federal dollars to improving medical care, since funds had just been earmarked for his $1.35 trillion tax cut and he was lobbying for more funneling more money to the Pentagon. Bush did not intend to -- or he was unable to -- allocate any federal dollars to improving medical care, since funds had just been earmarked for his $1.35 trillion tax cut and he was lobbying for more funneling more money to the Pentagon.
In line with protecting American pharmaceutical corporations’ profits, Bush prevented other countries from selling pharmaceutical drugs to American citizens.
1. The Associated Press surveyed comparable U.S. and Canadian prices for 10 popular drugs and found the Canadian prices were 33 percent to 80 percent cheaper.
2. A three-month supply of cholesterol-controlling Lipitor, the world’s best-selling prescription drug, was 37 percent cheaper in Canada.
3. The anti-depressant Paxil cost about half as much as in the United States, while the arthritis drug Vioxx cost 58 percent less.
4. The biggest price difference was for the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal, 80 percent cheaper in Canada.
5. Citizens of Illinois would save about $91 million a year by buying prescription drugs from Canada, according to report commissioned by Governor Rod Blagojevich. The state spent $340 million on prescription drugs for its employees and retirees in 2002, 15 percent more than a year earlier. (MSNBC, November 6, 2003)
Children’s hospitals. On March 3, 2001, Bush spoke at Egleston Children’s Hospital in Atlanta. He said, “This is a hospital, but it’s also – it’s a place full of love. And I was most touched by meeting the parents and the kids and the nurses and the docs, all of whom are working hard to save lives. I want to thank the moms who are here. Thank you very much for you hospitality. … There’s a lot of talk about budgets right now, and I’m here to talk about the budget. My job as the President is to submit a budget to the Congress and to set priorities, and one of the priorities that we've talked about is making sure the health care systems are funded.”
Bush’s first budget proposed cutting grants to children’s hospitals like the one he visited by 15 percent ($34 million). His 2004 budget additionally proposes to cut 30 percent ($86 million) out of grants to children’s hospitals.
Stem cell research. From the outset, Bush made it clear that he opposed stem cell research which could be used in the search for cures to diseases. He falsely claimed that only 60 embryonic stem cell lines were in existence and could be used for adequate research. Bush’s assertion was refuted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest group of scientists. (Washington Post, August 18, 2001)
Welfare reform. The official poverty rate in 2002 rose to 12.1 percent in 2002 from 11.7 percent the year before, bringing to total number of people living below the poverty line to 34.6 million. The median earned income of the nation’s households fell about $500 over the same period, to $42,409. The number of Americans living below the poverty line increased by more than 1.7 million in 2002, even though the economy technically edged out of recession during the same period. The Census Bureau report indicated that the total percentage of people in poverty increased to 12.4 percent from 12.1 percent in 2001 and totaled 34.8 million. At the same time, the number of families living in poverty went up by more than 300,000 in 2002 to 7 million from 6.6 million in 2001. It was also the first time since the early 1990s that there were negative changes in poverty and incomes in two consecutive years. (New York Times, September 26, 2003)
The number of children in poverty rose by more than 600,000 during the same period to 12.2 million. The rate of increase in children under age 5 jumped a full percentage point to 19.8 percent living below the poverty line from 18.8 percent a year earlier. (New York Times, September 3, 2003)
George W. Bush abandoned his campaign pledge to regulate carbon dioxide, the principal global warming gas. He claimed that carbon dioxide was not a pollutant according to the Clean Air Act.
At first, Bush refused to lower the content of arsenic in drinking water. He claimed that research did not prove that the existing levels of arsenic cause cancer in humans.
Bush killed regulations requiring the United States to meet the World Health Organization’s standard limiting arsenic in drinking water.
In April 2001, the Bush adminsitration announced that it might reverse a federal policy that required ground beef used in government school lunch programs to be tested to ensure it is free of salmonella. The tougher standard resulted in the rejection of nearly 5 million pounds of ground beef during this school year, almost 5 percent of the total purchased by the USDA. Days after it was announced that testing would cease, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman claimed that she never approved the change. (Los Angeles Times, April 5, 2001)
Bush sought to eliminate the public’s ability to sue to enforce the Endangered Species Act.
Bush cut funding for solar and other renewable energy programs by half -- and he reduced energy-efficiency research by 7 percent. Less than a month before, Bush reversed his campaign pledge to limit carbon-dioxide emissions, claiming the area of global warming needed more study. But his budget proposed to cut research in this very area by 4 percent.
In 2001, Bush promised $100 million for the promotion of conservation of tropical rain forests, but he later included only $13 million for the fund. He cut the United States Geological Survey’s national water quality assessment program by $20 million. He slashed the budget for wind, geothermal, and hydrogen energy by 48 percent. Bush sought to eliminate the public’s ability to sue to enforce the Endangered Species Act. (www.100daysofbush.com/index.html)
Speaking at South Dakota Ethanol Plant on April 24, 2002, Bush said, “I said when I was running for President, I supported ethanol, and I meant it. I support it now, because not only do I know it’s important for the ag sector of our economy, it’s an important part of making sure we become less reliant on foreign sources of energy.” In his fiscal 2004 budget, Bush eliminated funding for the bioenergy program.
Bush slashed federal funds were slashed for the Department of Energy budget by $700 million; the Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Program by $39.6 million; the EPA by $500 million; and the Interior Department by $400 million.
Bush cut research on renewable energy sources was cut by $190 million; solar research programs by $49.8 million; the Global Environmental Facility, which provided technical and financial assistance to help developing nations to reduce global warming, by $500 million over 10 years.
Bush scaled back the new energy-efficiency standards for air conditioners that were established in the Clinton administration.
Bush rejected any increase in auto mileage standards.
Bush broke a campaign promise by abandoning his pledge to invest $100 million each year in a program for rain forest conservation. He announced in August 2000 that, if elected, he planned to greatly expand the Tropical Forest Conservation Act which allowed poor countries to restructure their debt in exchange for protecting the disappearing forests. In an August 25, Bush said in Miami, he said, “Expanding the aims of the Tropical Forest Conservation Act, I will ask Congress to provide $100 million to support the exchange of debt relief for the protection of tropical forests.” In Bush’s budget for fiscal 2002, he earmarked just $13 million for the program. (Boston Globe, April 10, 2001)
Bush stated that “sound science, and not politics, must prevail” in Yucca Mountain which was being considered as a site to dump radioactive materials. Bush ignored a study by the congressional General Accounting Office from December 2001 that said scientific testing to determine the facility’s viability would not be complete before 2006. (Washington Post, March 25, 2002)
The energy task force. Vice President Cheney chaired the ad hoc Energy Task Force. He secretly choosing its members, most or all of whom were connected to Big Oil. Cheney refused to allow the Government Accounting Office to investigate the costs incurred by the committee. He also refused to disclose the names of the private-sector participants. (Los Angeles Times, July 19, 2001; August 4, 2001)
From the outset, Bush refused to intervene and to implement caps on wholesale electricity. In June 2001, Bush flip-flopped on his position. In an attempt to make the public believe that he did not reverse himself, Bush said that the FERC did not impose caps but that the executive agency merely was “talking about a mechanism ... to mitigate any severe price spike that may occur, which is completely different from price controls.” (Washington Post, June 19, 2001; Los Angeles Times, June 19, 2001)
Bush changed his position due to the power crisis in the Western states, most of which were governed by Republicans. But in California, a Democratic majority ran the state government, so Bush claimed it was a Democratic problem. Republicans in Congress warned that Bush’s opposition to price caps was a political blunder that could endanger GOP control of the House. California Democratic Governor Gray Davis, by demanding tough price caps, gave Bush something he could continue to denounce even as he embraced limited price controls. (Los Angeles Times, June 19, 2001)
Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The 1.5 million acres, advocated by Bush, were not contiguous. The administration only counted sites where oil rigs would be placed throughout the ANWR.
To justify drilling in the ANWR, Bush used figures from a 1990 study by the American Petroleum Institute. He claimed that the Teamsters Union would obtain 700,000 jobs by the drilling. However, the figure came from a 1990 study by the American Petroleum Institute study. Economists believed that the actual job growth would be less than 10 percent that number. (Time, August 20, 2001)
A report by Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research denounced that figure. He claimed that the 1990 study overestimated the amount the oil would represent on the world market. Using current estimates from the Energy Information Agency, Baker found that the earlier study overstated the size of the potential oil flows by a factor of three. Even with the multiplier effect, Baker estimated that only 46,300 new jobs could be attributed to opening the refuge to drilling. (Boston Globe, September 7, 2001)
Studies indicated that ten years would be required before any oil would reach the consumer. (New York Times, January 31, 2001)
Alaskan oil would produce only a six months’ supply for the nation. (New York Times, January 31, 2001)
Heavy vehicles would damage vegetation and soils in the ANWR. (New York Times, February 5, 2001)
Drilling in Florida and California. In 2001, Bush lobbied to lease 5 million acres of oil sites off the coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. He received a setback when the GOP-controlled House voted to block oil and gas exploration off the coast of Florida and to bar new oil, gas, and coal exploration in millions of acres of national monuments. (Washington Post, June 23, 2001)
In July 2001, Bush planned to sell 1.47 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico. He said that his decision “reflects significant progress in Florida’s fight to protect our coastline. Any lease sales that do occur in the 181 area will occur off the coast of Alabama, not Florida. Floridians have spokes loud and clear, and their voices have been heard by President Bush.” (Los Angeles Times, July 2, 2001)
In June 2002, Bush suggested that the state of California open more sites for drilling oil off its coast. However, after meeting with GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon in June 2002, Bush spoke of placing a moratorium on drilling. This decision came immediately after a visit to Bush by Simon. Simon tried to position himself as even friendlier to the coastal environment than Governor Gray Davis.. Simon suggested that the end to offshore drilling might be accomplished through a combination of buying leases -- swapping them for others in the Gulf of Mexico and permitting oil companies to drill from rigs located on land. (San Francisco Chronicle, June 8, June 9, 2002)
The Greenhouse effect and the Kyoto Protocol. The kyoto Protocol set goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 5 percent to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The United States was the largest contributors of emissions, spewing 37 percent of all greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Bush promised the European Union that he would not interfere with their efforts to carry out the Kyoto Protocol. But the administration set up roadblocks to interfere with its commitment. During consultations in the Netherlands, the United States delegation raised objections on several issues in an attempt to torpedo the treaty. (Los Angeles Times, July 6, 2001)
The United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, comprised of more than 2,000 scientists from 100 countries, concluded that the climate was changing far more quickly than was initially projected and that Earth was far more sensitive to even a small degree of warming than they had initially anticipated.
In April 2001, two independent studies were published in the Science journal, providing further evidence of global warming. The study showed that the Earth’s temperatures increased 1.08 degrees in the twentieth century; that polar sea ice was thinning; and that the world’s high-latitude glaciers were diminishing.
A study by the Boston-based Tellus Institute and Stockholm Environment Institute in July 2001 revealed that the United States economy would save more than $50 billion in energy-related costs by 2010, if the Kyoto treaty were ratified. American households would save an average of $113 each, and the United States could cut carbon dioxide emissions to a level about 2.5 per cent above that in 1990. (The Straits Times, July 14, 2001)
An EPA study showed that emissions of global-warming gases in the United States climbed 0.9 percent in 1999 compared with 1998. Industrial emissions in fact fell that year, by 2.1 percent. Commercial emissions -- mainly from electric utilities that supplied stores and other businesses -- rose 1.9 percent. But residential emissions were up 2.9 percent, also reflecting the increased use of electric power. Global-warming emissions from transportation, primarily from the burning of gasoline in automobiles and diesel fuel in trucks, grew 3.4 percent in 1999.
The National Research Council concluded that global warming was indeed “real.”
In 2001, the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council concluded that “global warming could well have serious adverse societal and ecological impacts by the end of this century, especially if globally averaged temperature increases approach the upper end of ... projections.” (San Francisco Chronicle, June 10, 2001)
The U.S. Climate Action Report 2002 concluded that global warming was a reality and that it would lead to heat waves, water shortages, rising sea levels, loss of beaches and marshes, more frequent, and violent weather. Bush never read the report. (The Nation, July 8, 2002; Associated Press, June 10, 2002)
Bush continually denied that the greenhouse effect existed. He characterized it as a serious long-range problem but one whose dimensions were still too little understood. He claimed that he would seek millions of dollars for new research into the causes of global warming and would try to renegotiate an international accord on the problem. He reneged on those promises.
High-level Bush administration officials undermined their own government scientists’ research into climate change to play down the impact of global warming. White House officials sought to edit or remove research warning that the greenhouse effect was serious. Conservative lobby groups, funded by the oil industry, attacked American scientists who had emphasized the danger of pollution. (London’s The Observer, September 21, 2003) ,?P>
The National Academy of Sciences February 2003 report said Bush’s plan for climate research would be unlikely accomplish the aim that he had laid out in several speeches and that he had listed dozens of disparate research goals without setting priorities. (New York Times, February 26, 2003)
Over 50 percent of the country’s 152 oil refineries were believed to be violating air-pollution laws. Another 25 percent of the refineries were believed to be violating the law and were targets of investigation. And the rest never met with federal officials and continued to operate in violation of the pollution laws. (New York Times, May 19, 2001),?P>
Bush’s policy to fight pollution rested merely on some voluntary industry agreements to scale back on chemicals that might contribute to the greenhouse effect. (New York Times, February 21, 2003)
Clean air and clean water. New EPA regulation allowed industries to:
1. Set higher limits for the amount of pollution that could be released by calculating emissions on a plant-wide basis rather than for individual pieces of equipment.
2. Rely on the highest historical pollution levels during the previous decade when figuring whether a facility’s overall pollution increase required new controls.
3. Avoided having to update pollution controls if there had already been a government review of existing ones within the previous 10 years.
4. Exempted increased output of secondary contaminants that resulted from new pollution controls for other emissions. (New York Times, November 23, 2002)
In May 2002, Bush rewrote the Corps of Engineers’ clean water regulations to allow companies to continue filling valleys with the mining dirt, which covered 1,000 miles of streams across Appalachia. The ruling prohibited the Army Corps of Engineers from issuing new permits for piling leftover dirt and rock into streams. It greatly reduced mountaintop removal mining. (New York Times, May 9, 2002)
In the fall of 2002, Bush scaled back protection for hundreds of thousands of miles of small streams, tributaries, and wetlands. (New York Times, September 20, 2002)
New criminal pollution cases referred by the EPA for federal prosecution were down more than 40 percent in Bush’s first three years. Civil pollution cases were down 25 percent. (Common Dreams, August 11, 2003)
The wilderness. Bush worked to prevent environmental impact statements from blocking or stalling energy production, logging, and other controversial uses of federal lands and waters. The management plans determined which lands were targeted for mineral development, grazing, or timber harvests -- and which were preserved for wildlife, recreation, or wilderness. (Los Angeles Times, November 1, 2002)
In the spring of 2003, the Interior Department limited the Bureau of Land Management lands eligible for wilderness protection to 23 million acres nationwide. (New York Times, April 12, 2003)
Bush proposed that forest fires could be reduced by encouraging the thinning of small trees, easing regulation of forest management, and relying on private companies to carry out more of the work. He proposed that government agencies enter into “stewardship contracts” with private companies which would be permitted to keep wood products in exchange for thinning trees and removing brush and dead wood. (New York Times and Washington Post, August 23, 2002)
The 2003 EPA report. A June 2003 EPA report on the state of the environment was edited by the Bush administration. The report claimed that rising global temperatures had been reduced to a few noncommittal paragraphs. The editing eliminated references to many studies that concluded warming was at least partly caused by rising concentrations of smokestack and tail-pipe emissions and that they could threaten health and ecosystems. Other deletions included the human contribution to warming from a 2001 report on climate by the National Research Council and a 1999 study showing that global temperatures had risen sharply in the previous decade compared with the last 1,000 years. (New York Times, June 19, 2003)
An Inspector General’s internal report in May 2003 revealed that the EPA used an obsolete computer system to track and control water pollution. The report said it was full of faulty data and did not take into account thousands of significant pollution sources. (New York Times, May 27, 2003)
From Gale Norton to Mike Levitt. In September 2002, a federal judge held Interior Secretary Gale Norton in contempt for failing to heed his order to fix oversight problems with a trust handling hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties from Indian land. (Washington Post, September 17, 2002)
The EPA inspector general said that Whitman assured the public immediately after 9-11 that the air was safe before testing was conclusive. The EPA conducted no tests on PCBs and toxins, and 25 percent of samples indicated the presence of asbestos. The EPA failed to warn residents near Ground Zero to have their homes professionally cleaned. (Newsweek, September 8, 2003; MSNBC, September 6, 2003)
In the fall of 2003, Whitman was replaced by Mike Leavitt. Leavitt was governor of Utah, the second worst state for the highest level of industrial toxic pollutants.
Levitt’s anti-environmental policy included:
1. Failing to respond quickly to the release of harmful carcinogens from a magnesium plant on the Great Salt Lake, operated by the state’s biggest polluter.
2. Opposing the Kyoto Protocol on global warming; supporting the National Governor’s Association policies on global climate change which advocated weak voluntary partnerships over the stronger Kyoto Protocol.
3. Favoring the development of the Legacy Highway in the Salt Lake City area that would have cut through wetlands that are vital nesting habitats for millions of shorebirds.
4. Opposing research by Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources which opposed development interests where endangered species existed.
5. Preventing the Bureau of Land Management from designating Wilderness Study Areas on the public lands, thus placing 6 million acres of Utah’s wilderness in jeopardy and opening the door to mining, drilling, and off-road vehicle use.
6. Permitting states to declare questionable trails as “constructed highways,” and thus be subjected to giveaway. It left open the possibility of road-building in national parks, wildlife refuges, national forests and other public lands. (Salt Lake Tribune, April 25, 2003; New York Times, August 13, 2003, September 23, 2003; Los Angeles Times, August 12, 2003)
An EPA report showed that under Leavitt, Utah had a high proportion of polluters emitting at unacceptable levels. Between 1999 and 2001, 30 percent of Utah facilities with federal licenses to release a specified amount of waste into waterways exceeded those limits. The national average was about 25 percent in 2001. (Time, September 8, 2003)
The 2003 Northeast blackouts. In May 2001, Bush issued an energy policy that warned of kinks in the transmission grids that “could result in price pressures and reliability problems.” Bush said the electricity grid “needs to be modernized, so we can move product from point A to point B.” He said he wanted connections as modern as the interstate highway and phone systems. (Washington Post, August 23, 2003)
Bush never acted. When blackouts hit the Northeast and Midwest in August 2003, none of Bush’s plans for improving the grid had been turned into law. (Washington Post, August 18, 2003)
Bush’s Enron connection. The George W. Bush and “Kenny Boy” Lay friendship began during the 1992 Republican national convention. In March 1993, Enron hired Bush’s Commerce secretary, Robert Mosbacher, and his secretary of State, James A. Baker III, to line up contracts for Enron. In the 2000 election, Bush named Baker his Florida election strategist in a successful effort to halt the recount which would have given Al Gore the state’s 25 electoral votes and would have propelled him into the White House.
When Bush co-owned the Houston Astros, Lay agreed to spend $100 million over thirty years for rights to name the park after Enron.
When Bush campaigned for the presidency in 2000, Lay lent him the Enron corporate jet 14 times, and the Bush campaign reimbursed Enron only $60,000 for those flights.
Altogether, Enron and its employees have contributed $736,800 to Bush’s political career -- far more than any other corporation. That included the $10,000 chairman Lay and his wife, Linda, donated to the Bush/Cheney 2000 Recount Fund, as well as the $300,000 Enron leaders spent on the Bush/Cheney post-recount-crushing inaugural party. When Enron Field opened in April 2000, Bush and Lay had the best seats in the stadium -- in the Enron box. (The Nation, February 2, 2002)
Initially, Bush tried to portray Enron’s financial troubles as a distant and even technical matter. Only after months of protest did the White House finally turn over more than 2,100 pages of subpoenaed documents related to contacts with Enron officials. (New York Times, June 5, 2002)
Bush tried to conceal documents pertaining to dialogue between Enron officials and some White House staff members.
Bush maintained that there was no evidence that Enron appealed to White House officials during its financial crisis. However, records indicated a White House cover-up, since subpoenaed documents revealed that Bush’s communications office sought to minimize the damage to financial markets and to the Bush administration. Deputy Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten had spoken to an assistant Treasury secretary about how Enron’ failure could affect the energy and financial markets. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and Commerce Secretary Donald Evans had rebuffed Enron’s requests for help, according to the subpoenaed documents. Another document revealed the deep ties between the Bush administration and Enron, including three phone conversations between Ken Lay and Bush’s senior adviser, Karl Rove. Documents also showed that the administration was clearly worried about the potential impact of Enron’s collapse as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks.(New York Times, June 1, 2002; Washington Post, May 24, 2002)
THE EDUCATION PRESIDENT
”No Child Left Behind.” As a result of the No Child Left Behind Act passed in January 2002, thousands of schools across the country were labeled as unsuccessful, after their test scores dropped two years in a row. For example, 45 percent of California schools failed to improve test scores in their second year.
The law stipulated that the entire student body had to increase test scores and that several subgroups – such as minorities and students who did poorly in English – also had to show signs of improvement.
Students were allowed to transfer from failing schools under the No Child Left Behind Act. Yet, a high percentage of students were not allowed to change schools because of tight budgets. (Time, September 22, 2003)
The GOP-controlled Senate education committee eliminated a high school dropout prevention program that prevented more than 32,000 children with limited proficiency in English from participating in federally supported English instruction programs. It drastically cut high school equivalency and college assistance for migrant children and ended the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship program. (New York Times, August 22, 2003)
The Senate education committee cut more than 20,000 teachers from professional training program despite Bush’s promise that teachers would “get the training they need to raise educational standards.” It also would completely eliminate training for teachers in computer technology.
In October 2002, Bush said his education legislation made “the biggest increase in education spending in a long, long time.” In fact, the 15.8 percent increase in Department of Education discretionary spending for fiscal year 2002 (the figures the White House supplied when asked about Bush’s statement) was below the 18.5 percent increase under Clinton the previous year -- and Bush had wanted a much smaller increase than Congress approved. (Washington Post, October 22, 2002)
While the GOP was busy slashing funding for programs, many of the country’s 50 million students began the 2003-04 school year worse off than they had been in previous years. Some schools asked families to contribute basic supplies like paper, pencils, and even soap. Others charged students steep fees to join athletic teams. Worst of all, teacher layoffs increased class sizes and jeopardized enrichment programs that had been shown to improve student performance. (New York Times, August 31, 2003) P>
On January 8, 2003, Bush said, “This administration is committed to your effort. And with the support of Congress, we will continue to work to provide the resources school need to fund the era of reform.” Bush’s 2003 budget was the first education budget after he signed and touted the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Bush proposed to cut NCLB programs by $90 million overall, leaving these programs more than $7 billion short of what was authorized under the bill. Bush’s 2004 budget for NCLB was just 1.9 percent above what he proposed in 2003 - $619 less than needed to offset inflation.
The Bush Fiscal 2004 budget called for a drastic reduction in numerous education programs:
The termination of programs that currently received over $1.5 billion in federal education assistance.
Major reductions in Vocational Education of over $300 million or 23 percent.
A cut in the total Impact Aid funding -- federal assistance to school districts that serve children from military bases -- by $125 million or 11 percent.
The reduction in funds as promised under the No Child Left Behind Act. $18.5 billion was set aside for Title I programs, but the Bush budget proposed only $12.3 billion. Deficit-plagued states and school districts were be required to pay for the standards-raising and testing imposed on them by the federal government.
A shortfall of $11 billion for “full funding” for special education state grants to help schools cover special education costs. The federal government promised to pay 40 percent of the costs of this program but actually came up with only 17 percent of the money. The states had to pay the rest../p>
A reduction of $400 million or 40 percent in funding for the 21st century after school center program. (Center for American Progress, December 16, 2003)
Vocational education. On October 18, 2002, Bush said, “I want to thank the good folks here at Rochester Community and Technical College for your hospitality …The most important issue -- the most important issue for any governor in any state is to make sure every single child in your state receives a quality education.” Bush’s 2004 budget proposed to cut vocational and technical education grants by 24 percent ($307 million). His budget also proposed to freeze funding for pell grants for low-income students.
Head Start. Bush insisted that the nation’s 16,000 Head Start centers be turned over to the states, while most of the program’s leaders, at 200 centers across the country, accused Bush of trying to dismantle the $6.6 billion program.
Head Start administrators and parents accused Bush of endangering the program. They objected to the decentralization of Head Start, since most states were running budget deficits and insisted that states could not fund Head Start as well as other pre-school programs. Others objected to Bush’s directive to administer the nation’s first nation-wide tests to 4-year olds, in order to track each child’s progress and the effectiveness of each Head Start program. (Chicago Tribune, September 30, 2003)
Bush reneged on his promise to revise Head Start as a program for preschool children and their families living below or near the federal poverty line.
Bush sought to introduce the teaching of phonics the central focus in Head Start centers. However, a 2000 study by the Westat Corporation, a private research company, showed Head Start succeeded in helping children develop literacy and numeracy skills. The study showed that graduates had solid gains in vocabulary and other pre-reading skills, compared with children from similar backgrounds who had not had the Head Start experience, and they were more ready for school.
Even Start. In April 2002, Bush proposed slashing funding by 20 percent for the Even Start program which offered tutoring to preschoolers and literacy and job training for their parents.
Waffling on free trade. In 1999, George W. Bush said, “I do not support import fees.” When he announced his candidacy in June 1999, he said, I’ll work to end tariffs and break down barriers everywhere, entirely, so the whole world trades in freedom.” During the 2000 campaign, Bush talked about establishing “free trade from northernmost Canada to the tip of Cape Horn.” (Washington Post, March 25, 2002)
On March 22, 2002, Bush imposed duties averaging 29 percent on Canadian “softwood” lumber. He imposed tariffs of up to 30 percent on steel imports from Europe. That prompted European Union officials to retaliate with trade barriers of their own. (Washington Post, March 25, 2002)
NAFTA. In June of 2001, Public Citizen released a report graphically illustrating the failure of NAFTA to increase the income of farmers. American farmers lost nearly $18 billion in annual revenue, and Mexican farmers’ income fell 17 percent. Canadian farmers, who were told to expect a $1.4 billion increase in income, found their bank accounts $600 million emptier. The NAFTA/Farm report reflected the transfer of wealth from small, independent operators to multinational conglomerates. (Anita Martin, Fellowship of Reconciliation, December 2000; Jim Hightower, Hightower Lowdown, September 2001),/P>
As a result of NAFTA, over 33,000 small American farms went out of business. Agribusiness giants such as ConAgra and Archer Daniels Midland had significant earnings gains. From 1993 to 2000, ConAgra's profits grew 189 percent from $143 million to $413 million; and Archer Daniels Midland’s profits nearly tripled between 1993 and 2000 from $110 million to $301 million. (Anita Martin, Fellowship of Reconciliation, December 2000; Jim Hightower, Hightower Lowdown, September 2001)
Bush announced in early 2001 plans to let Mexican trucks begin making deliveries throughout the United States starting in January 2002. In February, a NAFTA arbitration panel ruled that Mexican trucks no longer had to be confined to a 20-mile zone just north of the border.
In June, Bush suffered a blow when the House voted to bar the Transportation Department from issuing safety permits that would have allowed Mexican trucks to operate throughout the United States. (New York Times, June 27, 2001)
In August 2001, Bush received another blow when the Senate passed a bill that required Mexican trucks to undergo rigorous safety checks before being allowed to travel throughout the United States. (Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2001)
Free Trade with the Americas. The Free Trade Area for the Americas (FTAA) was initiated in 1994 by the 34 countries of North and South America, but Cuba was not invited to participate. Thirty-four heads of state gathered in Quebec in April 2001 to establish guidelines to expand free trade beyond the NAFTA countries and to implement the process by January 1, 2005. The text of the agreement was hammered out in secrecy. The FTAA allowed corporations to bypass democratically adopted environmental or worker protection laws, increasing corporate power while endangering the lives of millions of people. It disproportionately affected women and racial minorities. The FTAA threatened to hand over control of schools, electricity, water, and, food to corporations whose only interest is more profit.
The World Trade Organization. Over 30,000 anti-free trade protesters descended upon Quebec City in the spring of 2001. They ranged from 6,000 hard-core militants, including American anarchists, to middle-aged ex-hippies, trade unionists, environmentalists, as well as other activists for social and economic causes. They were united in their opposition to “globalization” -- the removal of trade and regulatory barriers that they believed favored only big corporations.
Labor and environmental leaders were opposed to non-trade-related matters such as worker safety and wilderness preservation. Attempting to appease unionists and environmentalists, Bush claimed that he would proceed with free trade with “a strong commitment to protecting the environment and improving labor standards.” However, Bush refused to say whether any future trade accord would require all the countries in the hemisphere to adhere to minimum standards, from the wages they pay, to allowing unions to organize, to controlling the pollutants emitted from factories. (New York Times, April 22, 2001; Los Angeles Times, April 23, 2001)
In August 2001, the European Union issued a judgment against the Bush administration. The EU asked for more than $4 billion in trade sanctions unless the White House would amend a tax-credit program for American corporations that the WTO said violated international law. The WTO judgment found that billions of dollars’ worth of special tax breaks offered to Microsoft, Boeing, and hundreds of other American exporters amounted to an illegal subsidy that discriminated in favor of American products. (Washington Post, August 21, 2001)
The WTO acted on an earlier EU complaint by declaring that the Foreign Sales Corporation Act provided illegal export subsidies. That law allowed major exporters to shelter some overseas earnings from tax by funneling sales through offshore shell companies, called “foreign sales corporations,” that were mainly in the Caribbean. After Congress approved changes in November 2000 designed to conform to WTO rules, the EU complained that the amended law only increased the size of the tax breaks. The WTO panel agreed that the latest version was also illegal. (Washington Post, August 21, 2001)
In the summer of 2002, the WTO authorized the EU to impose a record $4 billion in penalties on American goods unless the Bush administration would eliminate a tax break for American exporters deemed illegal under global rules. (New York Times, August 31, 2002)
The G-8 Summit in Genoa. The principal aim of the G-8 was to reduce world poverty. It called for developing countries to introduce reforms that would promote democracy, open and fair judicial systems, access to education, and an emphasis on technological advances. The G-8 pushed for economic accountability and the termination of corruption in order to attract foreign and private investment. In exchange, industrialized nations would provide the technical tools and financial resources to promote growth. The G-8 launched the new Global Fund for AIDS and Health which emphasized prevention as well as treatment of the deadly disease. (Los Angeles Times, July 19, 2001)
Protesters included environmentalists, trade unionists, anarchists, anti-poverty groups, Marxists, neo-Nazis, arms trade demonstrators, Kyoto supporters, and those who wanted to abolish the debts of Third World nations. The goals were to halt globalization in its tracks. (The London Guardian, July 21, 2001)
Bush unsuccessfully turned the tables on the demonstrators, charging that they were the enemies of the poor in the world. He said, “Instead of addressing policies that represent the poor, you embrace policies that lock poor people into poverty.” (Washington Post, July 21, 2001) ,/P>
Bush refused to cooperate with other global powers and defied most of the industrialized world. His counterparts were outraged at his rejection of the Kyoto treaty, his unilateral decision to move ahead with the National Missile Defense system, and his pro-capital punishment position. (Los Angeles Times, July 19, 2001)
THE JIM JEFFORDS’ DEFECTION
During the 2000 campaign, Bush frequently boasted: “I’m a uniter -- not a divider.”
Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords was concerned about the positions adopted by the Bush administration on the size of a tax cut for the wealthy, too little funding for an education bill, and a dairy bill that benefited farmers. Jeffords pressed for expanded funding for schools, especially educating disabled children. Bush ignored his proposal.
Jeffords’ decision to bolt from the GOP and to turn independent was -- not only his increasing alienation from the policies of his party – but the miscalculations by Republicans in the Senate and the White House over how to handle him. Bush immediately turned defiant, blaming Jeffords for the soured relationship. (Washington Post, May 25, 2001; Los Angeles Times, May 24, 2001)
Both Bush and Cheney called in Jeffords and attempted to pressure him to remain in the party. Bush asked, “Is there anything I or my administration has done to make you feel slighted?” “No,” Jeffords replied. (Washington Post (May 24, 2001) In attempt to keep Jeffords onboard, Republican leaders dangled a leadership post and more money for education, if he would remain within the party. (Washington Post, May 24, 2001)
FROM TRENT LOTT TO BILL FRISTMississippi Republican Senator Trent Lott had a long track record of opposing equality for all Americans.
1. In 1978, Congressman Lott spearheaded a successful effort to posthumously restore United States citizenship to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
2. In 1979, he joined a bipartisan group that backed a constitutional amendment to prohibit busing to desegregate public schools. The proposal was rejected by seven votes.
3. In 1981, Lott filed a friend of the court briefing that bob Jones University deserved tax breaks because “racial discrimination does not always violate public policy.”
4. In 1983, he voted against Martin Luther King Day. He later told Partisan Magazine, “We have not done it for a lot of other people that have been more deserving.”
5. In 1984, Lott declared that “the spirit of Jefferson Davis lives in the 1984 Republican platform” and later calls the Civil War “the war of Northern aggression.”
6. In 1992, Lott spoke to the pro-racial group, the Council of Conservative Citizens, and declared, “The people in this room stand for the right principles.” (Newsweek, December 23, 2002)
Lott’s comments at Senator Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday bash cost him the post of Senate Majority Leader. Lott said, “I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either.”
Thurmond, as governor of South Carolina, ran for the White House as a Dixiecrat, who stood for segregation of the races. “All the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot force the Negro into our homes, our schools, our churches,” Thurmond said during his campaign against Harry Truman and Thomas Dewey -– in which he won four states. (New York Times, December 8, 2002; Washington Post, December 10, 2002)
Bill Frist became majority leader. His father founded the hospital conglomerate HCA, and Tommy Frist, another son, was the former chairman and CEO who continued to serve on the board of directors. In 1994, the business merged with Columbia, creating the nation’s largest hospital network.
In 1993, federal investigators swept through 19 HCA offices searching for evidence to document charges of overcharging and fraud. Physicians were given kickbacks in the Medicare program. In 2000, HCA pled guilty to 14 felonies. (Village Voice, January 24, 2003)
In January 2003, the Justice Department unexpectedly announced a settlement, with the company paying $631 million. HCA was to pay another $17.5 million to states claiming HCA overcharged their Medicaid programs. (Village Voice, January 24, 2003)
AND MORE …Bush said on January 30, 2003, “I want to thank the Boys and Girls Clubs across the country. …The Boys & Girls Club have got a grand history of helping children understand the future is bright for them, as well as any other child in America. Boys and Girls Clubs have been safe havens.” In his 2002 budget, Bush proposed eliminating all federal funding for the Boys and Girls Club of America. In his 2003 budget, he proposed cutting the program by 15 percent (from $70 million down to $60 million).
On January 17, 2002, Bush spoke about American veterans: Having been here and seeing the care that these troops get is comforting for me and Laura. We are -- should and must provide the best care for anybody who is willing to put their life in harm’s way.” Bush's visit came on the same day that the administration announced it was immediately cutting off access to its health care system approximately 164,000 veterans. (Washington Post, January 17, 2003)
On Labor Day 2002, Bush said, “These men and women are still the best of America. They are prepared for every mission we give them, and they are worthy of the standards set for them by America’s veterans. Our veterans from every era are the finest of citizens. We owe them the life we know today. They command the respect of the American people, and they have our everlasting gratitude.” Bush’s 2003 budget fell $1.5 billion short of adequately funding veterans care. (Independent Budget, January 7, 2002)
In March 2001, Bush delayed federal funds to religious charities.” Two days later, Bush said that “reports about our charitable choice legislation not going full steam ahead are just simply not true.” But that day the Senate, with the White House’s agreement, decided to postpone funding charities.
In July, Bush made a “firm commitment” to the Salvation Army to issue a regulation protecting such charities from state and city efforts to prevent discrimination against gays in hiring and domestic-partner benefits. In turn, the Salvation Army agreed to use its influence to promote the administration’s “faith-based” social services initiative -- to allocate more government funds to religious charities. (Washington Post, July 10, 2001)
Bush was caught in a lie. Initially, White House officials denied that any high-level talks with the Salvation Army over the “faith-based” initiative had occurred. Then in July, it was revealed that two months earlier, Bush met privately with top officials from the Salvation Army, while the White House was reviewing a request from the charity for a regulation protecting it from local workplace nondiscrimination laws based on sexual orientation. (New York Times, July 15, 2001)
On December 12, 2002, Bush bypassed Congress and issued an executive order to make it easier for religious groups to receive federal money for welfare programs. A month later, on January 22, Bush announced that religious groups would be allowed to use federal housing money to help build centers where religious worship was held -- as long as part of the building is also used for social services.
On June 17, 2002, Bush said, “Part of being a secure America is to encourage homeownership.” Bush’s 2004 budget for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, phased out HOPE VI” the program Bush visited and touted in Atlanta. (Associated Press, February 5, 2002)
Bush’s 2003 and 2004 budgets provided nothing for port security grants. The GOP Congress provided only $250 million for port security grants --35 percent less than authorized.
In August 2002, Bush vetoed all $39 million for the Container Security Initiative which he specifically touted.
On September 9, 2002, Bush said, “A secure and efficient border is key to our economic security.” Bush’s fiscal 2003 budget provided no additional money for this.
In August 2002, Bush vetoed $6.25 million for promised pay upgrades for Border Patrol agents. He also vetoed $39 million for the Container Security Initiative. Bush’s 2004 budget slashes total “Border and Transportation Security” by $284 million.