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WHAT WE THINK
Bush's scorched earth class warfare

February 13, 2004 | Page 3

WHEN THE Bush administration announced the details of its 2005 budget proposal on February 3, it said there was a lot of trimming to do. But instead of going after the fat--like the bloated military or tax cut handouts to greedy corporations--the White House had a different plan.

Go after programs that have already been cut to the bone--from education, to child care, to all kinds of services for the poor and elderly. The Bush budget proposal would cut 38 education programs, including dropout prevention, programs for gifted children and guidance counselors. Federal vocational and adult education funding? Slashed by 35 percent.

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), Bush's proposal for the federal government's housing voucher program could throw some 250,000 low-income families and elderly and disabled households off of assistance.

Of course, Bush's rich pals won't be tightening their belts. Bush's budget calls for $1.24 trillion in additional tax cuts over the next decade--the bulk of which will benefit the wealthy.

"It amounts to class warfare in reverse," CBPP director Robert Greenstein told the New York Times. "It proposes to continue every tax cut for the most affluent people, even adding very large new tax cuts, while starting to cut significantly into basic programs like child care and housing assistance."

There were even a few treats for Bush's supporters in the Christian Right. In addition to a $200 million request for drug treatment facilities operated by religious groups, there's the $100 million for the "Compassion Capital Fund"--which helps religious groups get their hands on federal money.

"The president continues to show his belief in America's armies of compassion," said an elated Jim Towey, director of the White House Office on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. "He is continuing what he said he would do when he was inaugurated."

The plan also called for increasing military spending by 7 percent--for a total of $401.7 billion to dump down the Pentagon rat hole. But this doesn't even count what's left out of the budget--funding for the cost of the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan won't be decided until 2005, months after the November election.

Contenders for the Democratic Party presidential nomination were quick to declare their outrage at Bush's budget plan. But we can't trust them any further than we can throw them.

Just like Bush, frontrunner John Kerry knows a lot about cutting social services. The Massachusetts liberal signed onto Clinton's 1996 welfare "reform" law that tossed millions off the welfare rolls. And when the Republicans were pushing through Medicare cuts late last year, Kerry had a funny way of opposing it--he didn't even show up for the vote.

Earlier this month, Kerry assured supporters in St. Louis that his criticisms of Bush had "nothing to do with class warfare. There are great companies and great CEOs throughout America, and I don't want us to be a Democratic Party that loves jobs and hates the people who create them."

But Bush's budget is class warfare. Anyone who thinks that the Democrats are on our side in wanting to turn back the White House's assault, they'd better think again.

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