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I will make a bargain with the Republicans. If they will stop telling lies about Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.
Adlai Stevenson

Bush leads U.S. from A-OK to IOU


August 29, 2001

Which would you rather have, a president who lies about sex or a president who lies about the budget?

We know Bill Clinton lied about his personal sex life. He said he didn't have an affair with Monica Lewinsky when in fact he did, sort of. At the time, that was considered the worst thing any president could do. Americans were shocked. He was even impeached for it.

And now we know George Bush is lying about the budget. And thatís pretty shocking, too.

The big Bush budget lie was unveiled this week by the Congressional Budget Office. Letís stop there for a moment. There are two sources for budget information : the White House and the CBO. In any administration, one is partisan, the other is non-partisan. One cooks the books, the other reports the facts. No matter who is president, I'll trust the CBO over the White House. You should, too.

According to the CBO, the mighty U.S. surplus -- on which Bushís across-the-board tax cut was based -- has melted quickly and dramatically, from a projected $275 billion in May to $153 billion today. Thatís a loss of $122 billion in expected revenue in just 4 months.

Only one-third of that reduction, says the CBO, is due to the ongoing economic slowdown, but two-thirds of it disappeared in the Bush tax cut.

Making matters worse, almost every penny of that still-intact $153 billion isnít really a government surplus, at all. Itís extra money collected by Social Security taxes. Itís that famous ďlockboxĒ -- which every Republican and Democrat has promised never to steal from again, under pain of death, because it belongs to seniors and should not be tapped to pay for fixing potholes or paying government salaries.

But this year, the White House and the Congress will be forced to raid the lockbox. Just paying for current government obligations -- no new spending -- will require taking $9 billion from the Social Security surplus in the current fiscal year, $18 billion in 2003, and another $3 billion in 2004.

Dancing to explain how he managed to lead the country from A-OK to IOU in just 4 months, President Bush has come up with two answers, neither of them convincing.

First, he blames the Congress for big spending. This is absolute nonsense. The only new money in the budget this year is for education and defense, both of which Bush asked for himself, and neither of which has yet been approved.

Next, Bush does what all Republicans do whenever thereís bad news. He blames Bill Clinton, arguing that Clintonís policies caused the economy to decline, but that it will bounce back, as soon as the tax cut kicks in. Wrong again. The eight Clinton years were a time of unprecedented economic growth, at the end of which came a natural slowdown.

But thereís no sign the Bush tax cut has re-stimulated the economy at all, so far. And again, according to the CBO, the worst is yet to come, because the Bush tax cut grows over time, requiring even more money to be stolen from Social Security in the years ahead.

Which is just what George Bush promised never to do. As a candidate, he insisted there was enough money to cut taxes, increase military spending and pay for prescription drug benefits without dipping into the Social Security surplus. As president, he vowed he would never, never touch the Social Security surplus. Heís lucky his nose didn't grow.

The truth is, Bush has nobody to blame but himself. On a macro level, he made the same stupid mistake everyone of us, on the micro level, has learned to avoid. He spent money he didn't have. Worse yet, he gave away money the government didn't have. He pushed a tax cut through Congress without knowing how much money was in the bank. He squandered the surplus on an irresponsible tax cut. And now he has no choice but to steal from Social Security or go back to the days of deficit spending.

Which would you rather have, a president who lies about sex, or a president who lies about the budget? Frankly, I'd rather have a president who lies about nothing. But lying about the budget is a lot more serious than lying about sex, because it hurts a lot more people. Impeachment hearings, anyone?

State of the President

February 4, 2002

In George W. Bush's First year in office, he :

  1. Significantly eased field-testing controls of genetically engineered crops.
  2. Cut federal spending on libraries by $39 million.
  3. Cut $35 million in funding for doctors to get advanced pediatric training.
  4. Cut by 50% funding for research into renewable energy sources.
  5. Revoked rules that reduced the acceptable levels of arsenic in drinking water.
  6. Blocked rules that would require federal agencies to offer bilingual assistance to non-English speaking persons. This, from a candidate who would readily fire-up his Spanish-speaking skills in front of would- be Hispanic voters.
  7. Proposed to eliminate new marine protections for the Channel Islands and the coral reefs of northwest Hawaii (San Francisco Chronicle, April 6, 2001).
  8. Cut funding by 28% for research into cleaner, more efficient cars and trucks.
  9. Suspended rules that would have strengthened the government's ability to deny contracts to companies that violated workplace safety, environmental and other federal laws.
  10. OK'd Interior Department appointee Gale Norton to send out letters to state officials soliciting suggestions for opening up national monuments for oil and gas drilling, coal mining, and logging.
  11. Appointed John Negroponte - an un-indicted high-level Iran Contra figure-to the post of United Nations Ambassador.
  12. Abandoned a campaign pledge to invest $100 million for rain forest conservation.
  13. Reduced by 86% the Community Access Program for public hospitals, clinics and providers of care for people without insurance.
  14. Rescinded a proposal to increase public access to information about the potential consequences resulting from chemical plant accidents.
  15. Suspended rules that would require hardrock miners to clean up sites on Western public lands.
  16. Cut $60 million from a Boy's and Girl's Clubs of America program for public housing.
  17. Proposed to eliminate a federal program, designed and successfully used in Seattle, to help communities prepare for natural disasters.
  18. Pulled out of the 1997 Kyoto Treaty global warming agreement.
  19. Cut $200 million of work force training for dislocated workers.
  20. Eliminated funding for the Wetlands Reserve Program, which encourages farmers to maintain wetlands habitat on their property.
  21. Cut program to provide child care to low-income families as they move from welfare to work.
  22. Cut a program that provided prescription contraceptive coverage to federal employees (though it still pays for Viagra).
  23. Cut $700 million in capital funds for repairs in public housing.
  24. Appointed Otto Reich - an un-indicted high-level Iran Contra figure - to Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs.
  25. Cut Environmental Protection Agency budget by $500 million.
  26. Proposed to curtail the ability of groups to sue in order to get an animal placed on the Endangered Species List.
  27. Rescinded the rule that mandated increased energy-saving efficiency regulations for central air conditioners and heat pumps.
  28. Repealed workplace ergonomic rules designed to improve worker health and safety.
  29. Abandoned campaign pledge to regulate carbon dioxide, the waste gas that contributes to global warming.
  30. Banned federal aid to international family planning programs that offer abortion counseling with other independent funds.
  31. Closed White House Office for Women's Health Initiatives and Outreach.
  32. Nominated David Lauriski - ex-mining company executive - to post of Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health.
  33. OK'd Interior Secretary Gale Norton to go forth with a controversial plan to auction oil and gas development tracts off the coast of eastern Florida.
  34. Announced intention to open up Montana's Lewis and Clark National Forest to oil and drilling.
  35. Proposes to re-draw boundaries of nation's monuments, which would technically allow oil and gas drilling "outside" of national monuments.
  36. Gutted White House AIDS Office.
  37. Renegotiating free trade agreement with Jordan to eliminate workers's rights and safeguards for the environment.
  38. Will no longer seek guidance from The American Bar Association in recommendations for the federal judiciary appointments.
  39. Appointed recycling foe Lynn Scarlett as Undersecretary of the Interior.
  40. Took steps to abolish the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
  41. Cut the Community Oriented Policing Services program.
  42. Allowed Interior Secretary Gale Norton to shelve citizen-led grizzly bear re-introduction plan scheduled for Idaho and Montana wilderness.
  43. Continues to hold up federal funding for stem cell research projects.
  44. Makes sure convicted misdemeanor drug users cannot get financial aid for college, though convicted murderers can.
  45. Refused to fund continued cleanup of uranium-slag heap in Utah.
  46. Refused to fund continued litigation of the government's tobacco company lawsuit.
  47. Proposed a $2 trillion tax cut, of which 43% will go to the wealthiest 1% of Americans.
  48. Signed a bill making it harder for poor and middle-class Americans to file for bankruptcy, even in the case of daunting medical bills.
  49. Appointed a Vice President quoted as saying "If you want to do something about carbon dioxide emissions, then you ought to build nuclear power plants." (Vice President Dick Cheney on "Meet the Press.")
  50. Appointed Diana "There is no gender gap in pay" Roth to the Council of Economic Advisers. (Boston Globe, March 28, 2001.)
  51. Appointed Kay Cole James - an opponent of affirmative action - to direct the Office of Personnel Management.
  52. Cut $15.7 million earmarked for states to investigate cases of child abuse and neglect.
  53. Helped kill a law designed to make it tougher for teenagers to get credit cards.
  54. Proposed elimination of the "Reading is Fundamental" program that gives free books to poor children.
  55. Is pushing for development of small nuclear arm to attack deeply buried targets and weapons, which would violate the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
  56. Proposes to nominate Jeffrey Sutton - attorney responsible for the recent case weakening the Americans with Disabilities Act- to federal appeals court judgeship.
  57. Proposes to reverse regulation protecting 60 million acres of national forest from logging and road building.
  58. Eliminated funding for the "We the People" education program which taught School children about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and citizenship.
  59. Appointed John Bolton - who opposes nonproliferation treaties and the U.N. - to Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.
  60. Nominated Linda Fisher - an executive with Monsanto - for the number-two job at the Environmental Protection Agency.
  61. Nominated Michael McConnell - leading critic of the separation of church and state - to a federal judgeship.
  62. Nominated Terrence Boyle - ardent opponent of civil rights - to a federal judgeship.
  63. Canceled 2004 deadline for automakers to develop prototype high mileage cars.
  64. Nominated Harvey Pitts - lawyer for teen sex video distributor - to head SEC.
  65. Nominated John Walters - strong opponent of prison drug treatment programs - for Drug Czar. (Washington Post, May 16, 2001.)
  66. Nominated J. Steven Giles - an oil and coal lobbyist - for Deputy Secretary of the Interior.
  67. Nominated Bennett Raley - who advocates repealing the Endangered Species Act - for Assistant Secretary for Water and Science.
  68. Is seeking the dismissal of class-action lawsuit filed in the U.S. against Japan by Asian women forced to work as sex slaves during WWII.
  69. Earmarked $4 million in new federal grant money for HIV and drug abuse prevention programs to go only to religious groups and not secular equivalents.
  70. Reduced by 40% the Low Income Home Assistance Program for low-income individuals who need assistance paying energy bills.
  71. Nominated Ted Olson- who has repeatedly lied about his involvement with the Scaiffe-funded "Arkansas Project" to bring down Bill Clinton - for Solicitor General.
  72. Proposes to ease permit process - including environmental considerations - for refinery, nuclear and hydroelectric dam construction. (Washington Post, May 18, 2001.)
  73. Proposes to give government the authority to take private property through eminent domain for power lines and gas pipelines.
  74. Proposes that $1.2 billion in funding for alternative renewable energy come from selling oil and gas lease tracts in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve.
  75. Plans on serving genetically engineered foods at all official government functions.
  76. Forced out Forest Service chief Mike Dombeck and appointed a timber industry lobbyist as his replacement.

Thanks to Aeolia Olive Products and Organic Ag Advisors for the compilation.

What the president is doing in office


January 28, 2002

Dr. David A. Sprintzen is a Professor of Philosophy Co-Director, Institute for Sustainable Development C.W. Post College,Long Island University 720 Northern Boulevard Brookville, NY 11548-1300
phone : (516)299-3051
fax : (516) 299-4140
email :

The First Six Months of George W. Bush: Whatever your beliefs, know what your president is doing. Here is a list of his work in his first six months :

Beating Around the Bush
A look at the president's first year in office

Grist Magazine


February 12, 2002

Remember the eager young Naderites? Although it seems like another lifetime, it was only 15 months ago that supporters of the Green Party were telling us, with a sense of foreboding in their cracking voices, that there was "no difference" between presidential candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush. In the Naderite view, both were shills of corporations who would pursue policies that differed in their despicableness only in degree.

One of these men is not like the other.

It was a laughable argument, even then -- one of the stupidest ever made in modern U.S. politics. True, it was mildly amusing to witness people who often couldn't name their own members of Congress become suddenly seduced by dreams of federal matching funds. (Did nobody else remember John Anderson? Patrick Buchanan?) But the end result has been a near-disaster for the issue that was often most dear to Ralph Nader's supporters : the environment.

If the past year has shown us anything, it is that the difference between George W. "Big Business" Bush and Al "Earth-in-the-Balance" Gore is significant indeed. Although some of the fears that Western environmentalists held about a Bush win have not come to pass (no monument designations have been rescinded, for example), many others have. Last month marked the one year anniversary of Bush's inauguration, so this is as good a time as any to reflect on the changes he's made in environmental policy. The verdict? What a difference a year -- and a president -- makes :

January 2001. Upon entering office, Bush suspends implementation of most of former President Clinton's late-term executive orders regarding the environment, including the "roadless rule" protecting 60 million acres of national forest, new standards for arsenic in drinking water and a phased-in ban of snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park. To ease California's electricity crunch, the U.S. EPA lifts air-pollution standards for California power plants. Gale Norton, dubbed "James Watt in a skirt" by one enviro for her libertarian views, is approved by the Senate as Interior secretary, and former Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.), who tried to abolish the Energy department while in Congress, is approved as Energy secretary.

February 2001. Norton announces that the administration will seek to "adjust the boundaries" of Clinton-designated national monuments. Bush, readying his budget, plans to cut Interior Department funding for environmental policy enforcement by 7 percent. The Republican-controlled Senate introduces a bill that would allow drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, a proposal that becomes the cornerstone of Bush's energy policy.

Bye, Mike!

March 2001. Bush reverses a campaign pledge by announcing that he will not order mandatory reductions of carbon dioxide emissions from the nation's electrical plants. He also withdraws from the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. The U.S. EPA delays new rules regulating hard-rock mining and cancels the implementation of the arsenic rule, inciting a national controversy. The president nominates mining industry lobbyist J. Steven Griles for Interior deputy secretary. Mike Dombeck, the most pro-conservation head of the U.S. Forest Service in decades, announces his retirement.

April 2001. Breaking another campaign pledge, Bush abandons plans to invest $100 million per year in rainforest conservation. Bennett Raley, who once testified that the Endangered Species Act should be repealed, is nominated as Bush's assistant secretary for water and science. The Interior Department seeks to limit citizen-initiated lawsuits involving the Endangered Species Act. Vice President Dick Cheney, heading up Bush's secret energy task force, meets with Enron executives for advice.

May 2001. The Bush administration places a freeze on new proposals for expanding the national park system. The president nominates James Connaughton, notorious for his legal defense of General Electric in Superfund fights with the EPA, to be the chair of his Council on Environmental Quality, and Congress approves Linda Fisher, former head of Monsanto's government affairs office, as second-in-command at the EPA. A federal judge warns the administration that it could be held in contempt of court if it fails to remove cattle from parts of California's Mojave Desert in order to protect the endangered desert tortoise. Bush releases his energy plan, devised in secret by a task force headed by Cheney. The administration announces it will uphold but modify the roadless rule.

June 2001. The chickens come home to roost : Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords, citing Bush's hostile environmental policies, leaves the Republican Party to become an Independent, handing control of the Senate to the Democrats. Norton announces she will block plans to reintroduce the grizzly bear in Idaho, killing a landmark compromise between local environmentalists and industry that would have allowed reintroduction. During the president's first summit with the European Union, protesters on the continent deride Bush for his global warming policies. Former timber lobbyiest Mark Rey is nominated for Agriculture undersecretary for natural resources and environment.

July 2001. The administration announces it will open 1.5 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico to oil drilling -- although not near Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's shorelines. William G. Myers, a former lobbyist for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, is confirmed as the Interior Department's new solicitor, and regulation-phobic John Graham of Harvard's Center for Risk Anaylsis is confirmed as the influential administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Environmentalists sue the EPA for failing to meet deadlines for controlling hazardous air pollution in cities. More than 185 nations back the Kyoto Protocol at climate talks in Bonn, Germany. The U.S. is conspicuously absent.

August 2001. The Justice Department indicates that it will seek to overturn a federal court order blocking oil and gas exploration off the California coast. The General Accounting Office sends a letter to Bush demanding the release of documents relating to the deliberations of the Cheney-led Energy Task Force. Citing executive privilege, Bush refuses to reveal with whom Cheney met.

September 2001. On Sep. 11, terrorists attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Bush wastes little time in using the attacks as a justification for decreased dependence on foreign sources of fossil fuel (read: increased coal mining and oil drilling in the U.S.). On Sep. 20, the Forest Service publishes a proposal that would allow forest supervisors to approve small-scale timber sales, road construction, mining projects, and off-road vehicle trails without seeking public input. The EPA issues a weak proposal regulating emissions of off-highway recreational vehicles, allowing dirtbikes and snowmobiles to continue fouling the air in national forests and parks.

October 2001. Disproving Bush's assertion that the Kyoto Protocol was "fundamentally flawed" and unworkable, 160 nations (minus you-know-who) agree on a finalized set of rules for reducing global greenhouse emissions. The Interior Department says it will support an open-pit gold mine near El Centro, Calif. Without public notice, the BLM relaxes temporary management rules in 14 of the national monuments created by Clinton, allowing increased vehicle use and mining activity.

November 2001. Bush nominates Rebecca Watson as the Interior Department's assistant secretary for land and minerals management. Watson, who has made a career representing the mining and logging industries, is also a member of the Board of Litigation for the far-right, anti-environmental Mountain States Legal Foundation.

December 2001. The White House grants initial approval to a set of administrative rules that would weaken the Clean Air Act by allowing coal-burning plants to bypass "new source" pollution standards when upgrading their facilities.

January 2002. The administration turns its attention to the Clean Water Act, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announces new rules that make it easier for developers to build on wetlands. The administration also kills a Clinton-era program designed to improve automobile fuel efficiency in the near-term through the use of hybrid engines; instead, Bush says he'll back research into hydrogen fuel cells, which should be available to consumers who wish to reduce their contribution to global warming in about, oh, 20 years.

Now tell me truly : Do you really think Al Gore would have been just as bad?

Mathew Gross is the editor of The Glen Canyon Reader, forthcoming from the University of Arizona Press. He lives in Moab, Utah.

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