Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Lies, Damn Lies, and Bushisms

I was going to write about something else today, but I am too incredulous (and angry) at an announcement that President Bush made today to focus on everything else. The President made a live TV appearance to celebrate the fact that the federal budget deficit for the fiscal year ending Sept 30, 2006 is projected to be only $295 Billion!!! I am angry because this is both a half-truth of the worst sort and not something worth celebrating by any means. Let me amplify both points.

First of all the $295 Billion President Bush cited is the combined federal deficit. The combined deficit treats surplus funds from the Social Security and Medicare trust funds as ordinary tax revenue, not money to be invested to prepare to pay benefits to future beneficiaries. The combined deficit takes these funds, spends them as though they were ordinary taxes, and places IOU's in the trust funds. Since Bush took office we have added $1.5 Trillion in IOU's to these trust funds! No wonder they are going broke! The actual deficit is much higher, but the problem is not being acknowledged by the Bush administration or Republican congress, who would never admint to such a huge problem, especially in an election year.

Secondly, the $295 Billion deficit is nothing to celebrate. It means America is going $295 Billion further in debt to the rest of the world, and ourselves. It means that instead of focusing on a concrete way to improve America by helping to end the destructive cycle of borrow and spend, Bush is going to continue in pursuit of his goal to cut the deficit "in half" by the time he leaves office. What he doesn' t know, or care, is that it is a goal that will not help America.

The first step to getting out of a hole, goes the age old wisdom, is to stop digging. Bush assures us that he will only have us digging half as fast by the end of his term. That is manifestly not a solution, and only lulls Americans into the attitude they can have spending and tax cuts at the same time.

For more information, visit the Bureau of the Public Debt, U.S. Department of the Treasury, website:


Note: "Debt held by the public" is held by those who have purchased treasury bonds, whether they are Americans or foreigners.  "Intragovernmental Holdings" are bonds owned by the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Back to the Well, One more time, Will it be dry?

With storm clouds gathering on the horizon for the Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, and with "the Architect" Karl Rove freed from his post as Deputy White House Cheif of Staff for Policy as well as cleared from further legalities in the Valerie Plame debacle, a nacent strategy is coming together on the part of the GOP to hold onto their majorities. This strategy is the same one that worked so well in 2002 and 2004: play the fear card. With missle tests in North Korea, the nuclear ambitions in Iran, and the strategically uncovered threat (which was really nothing more than some al-Qaeda fantasizing in chat rooms) of tunnel bombings in New York, Rove and the GOP will argue that todays' world is far to dangerous to turn over to Democratic foreign policy "wieners" and their multi-lateral (some would say conservative) approach to dealing with the rest of the world. This strategy is based on keeping the American people as frightened as possible for as long as possible: Think FDR's statement "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" turned on its head.

The Democratic challenge to defeat Karl Rove politics of fear is to take the statement above from one of our party's greatest leaders and apply it to today's world. The first step, I think, is to point out how the situations in North Korea, Iran, and also Afganhistan, has gone on unchecked due to all of the U.S.'s time and attention being placed in Iraq. This might be a good place to hammer home the theme of the Bush administration half-assing the "war of necessity" in Afganhistan in order to lead us into ao "war of choice" in Iraq. Next, we must convince Americans that a multi-lateral approach to fighting terrorism will work better than Bush's "Cowboy Diplomacy" at preventing terror. After all, preventing terrorism is an excercise in police work. Police investigations are careful, painstaking ordeals where sharing of information amongst all investigators is of the utmost importance. It is this police work, and not the Bush excursion into Iraq, that has kept America safe since 9/11. We must figure out a way to get that news to the American people.

Here is a good article on this issue.