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Economy: First Things Third

Just spell “No.”


In his freshman year as President, Junior is acting very sophomoric.


According to an NPR report, Bush proudly claims to have spent a whole five hours going over, in detail, his new budget. Mathematically, this means he spent under four minutes on how his 1.6% tax cut would affect education, his number one priority; and roughly 13 seconds on how his tax cuts would affect American farmers, who are somewhere down the list.


During the campaign, George W’s website listed as its third priority, “keeping education first.” Recently, W praised “Hooked on Phonics.” “Duh-bya,” like a frat boy skipping class to attend a kegger, doesn’t have time to read his own tax plan, just the Cliff Notes, or Tax Cuts for Dummies, that is. And now, federal politicians want to ban soft money? W is astonished. And so am I, but at a different level. I went to a state school, but Bush is Ivy League dumbfounded.


“Can’t someone go to the economic summit for me? I can pay ya. I got a pocket full of vouchers.”


W has made a strangely contradictory contribution to the soft money debate—to limit soft money, W suggests we don’t. Rather, he advocates raising the limits on hard money. What? But besides that, he has done three things that reveal his commitment to his word and his people.


Those three things are:


One: In an open letter to several conservative Republicans, W broke his word on regulating carbon dioxide emissions. He did so without even conferring with his own, albeit questionable, choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Christine Whitman (what happened to the “Todd?”).


Two: Attacking the former, and qualified, EPA head, Carol M. Browner, W overturned the ruling to lower legal arsenic levels in drinking water from 50 to 10 parts per billion. Just to be clear, arsenic at the reversed to higher level has cause, and will continue to cause, cancer in humans.


Bush asked Whitman to announce that more arsenic studies needed to be done. No. The studies have been done. Bush is not a scientist. Whitman is not a scientist. The facts clearly state that arsenic at 50 parts per million in your drinking water can cause cancer. There is actually human data since 1977. Ask any toxicologist, ask any scientist doing human health risk assessments with arsenic, or do what I’m doing, marry one.


Three: Paying back his corporate donors, and maybe just to spite Clinton, W overturned Bubba’s ergonomic workplace regulations, which were designed to protect workers performing “simple, repetitive motions”—machinists, assembly liners, stenographers, data entry personnel, etc. To show that he’s capable of menial, as well as cranial, work, W signed the bill 3x for good measure.


Bush boasted during his campaign that he would put money into the pockets of those who earned it. But now he tells the American workers that an increase in the minimum wage would be bad for the economy. Like paying someone else to write his term papers, Bush doesn’t tax his friends. He knows his supporters do not want to hear things they don’t understand. CO2 leads to Global Warming—huh? Cancer in my tap water—since when? Ergonomic workplace regulations—Ergo what? People want to hear how much money they’re going to get from his $1.6 billion dollar tax cut. That’s a big number, right? We’re all going to get rich, right? Right?


This sort of “dog ate my homework” non-obligation allows Bush to keep up his “is this gonna be on the test?” type of non-thinking.


Here’s three more things we all need to study.


Four: “No road zones.” W is abandoning, having approved logging on Federal lands, the last possible sanctuaries for nature and wildlife.


Five: Oil drilling in Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, complete with the soft money campaign claiming that Alaskans approve of drilling in ANWR.


Six: Expansion of mining areas, once again in the face of scientifically proven environmental and human health hazards.


In his first 60 days, W has thus shortened the life of the planet by at least 1000 years. Has he forgotten that conservative begins with conserve? If not, then why is he making such counterintuitive decisions? Where are his obligations? Soft money. Or as Bush calls it, a kinder gentler money.


Naturally a man, who legally (or otherwise) bought the Presidency with soft money is not going to be against soft money. Bush simply is not going to shoot himself in the foot—especially when it’s already in his mouth.


The McCain/Feingold bill, as is, is good. Or, as good as it’s ever gonna get from the inside (I don’t have time to go into the built-in ironies—it’s like A-Rod fighting for a salary cap). McCain/Feingold has been up for a vote twice already, and twice it has been shot down by the Republican-controlled Senate. And the House, of course, is “hung-up.”


Bush wants to make it all go away. Bush hates McCain. Bush has friends he needs to pay back so they can pay him back in four years. And it’s those friends who want to make your workplace dangerous, dump arsenic in your drinking water, and pump out enough CO2 to kill your children. And, God Bless America, Bush is gonna make sure it all happens.


To kill the bill without veto, W has his buddies looking for the proverbial loophole. He needs one. And if his sharper friends cannot find one, or make one, then as his brief history has shown, his richer friends will buy one and he’ll pay them back. They pay him in dollars; he, apparently, pays them back with your health.


It’s not that he doesn’t care about campaign corruption, or the environment, or the planet, or its inhabitants, or you. He is, remember, a self-proclaimed “compassionate conservative.” Regardless, he is helpless. Soft money rules this president. Bush will never, never, never let soft money go. As the Bible says, it’s more likely for his ass to pass through the eye of a needle. Or his camel. Or campaign finance reform. So even if McCain/Feingold passes, and it’s not proven unconstitutional, some sort of craftily hidden invalidity will surely be found.


The idea of a ban on soft money is good, but realistically, contemporarily implausible.


Scholars may argue that soft money is only offensive when used by someone with whom one disagrees. One may argue soft money is constructive when given to the right people, to the thoughtful, the sensitive, the intelligent. Soft money may be beneficial in the hands of the ones with deep, flexible thinking.


One may make that argument. But one may also be reminded that W starts with “Duh.”



Ray Nedzel

Rayman Nedzel lives inside the Beltway, but thinks outside of the box.


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