[Homestead] Molly Ivins corporate welfare replaces General Welfare Clase in Constitution

tvoivozhd tvoivozd at infionline.net
Thu Feb 10 17:21:52 EST 2005

tvoivozhd---Fifteen thousand chemical plants escape

security requirements. General Welfare provision of

Constitution abandoned for corporate welfare, welfare of






    by Molly Ivins

AUSTIN, Texas -- I don't get it. The divide between the

rhetoric and the reality in this administration is larger

than I can span. The dissonance between the noble ideals

expressed and the nasty actions is too raw for me.

For example, Bush announces: "Our founders dedicated this

country to the cause of human dignity, the rights of every

person and the possibilities of every life. This

conviction leads us into the world to help the afflicted,

and defend the peace, and confound the designs of evil

men." (I got that nugget from the 2003 State of the Union

via an article by Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully.) So

how come we give less to the afflicted than any other

advanced nation?

And how come we're torturing people? How come we're

putting people into high office -- attorney general,

Department of Homeland Security -- who unleashed the whole

torture scandal? The International Red Cross says torture

is still going on today at Guantanamo. Torture has

blackened our name around the world and made the

president's words about bringing freedom and democracy

sound hollow and hypocritical.

Item: Bush finally agreed to go along with the creation of

a Department of Homeland Security, asserting nothing was

more important than the safety of Americans. But then came

lobbyists for the American Chemistry Council, and suddenly

our safety wasn't so important. According to Christine

Todd Whitman, then-head of the Environmental Protection

Agency, she and Tom Ridge of Homeland Security crafted

regulations requiring the 15,000 highest-risk chemical

plants to take steps to reduce their vulnerability to

terrorism. Seems like a sensible idea.

But nope, the administration wouldn't support it, and the

lobby fought it. "I sometimes wonder whether those

companies spend more money trying to defeat new

regulations than they would by simply complying with

them," writes Whitman in her book "It's My Party Too."

There are no federal regulations today requiring chemical

companies to prepare for terrorist attacks.

Here's an administration dedicated to destroying

government as much as possible until, as Grover Norquist

says, "we can drown it in the bathtub." But they have no

hesitation about spending our money on "public relations."

The Bushies have spent $250 million on "public relations"

during their first term, more than twice as much as in

Clinton's last term. But it was not public-interest

spending, like trying to get people to eat healthier diets

or not drink while driving. This was propaganda for the

administration's political agenda.

Then there is the ludicrously loony matter of the budget

deficit. Recall these people inherited a whopping budget

surplus. For over a year now, the administration has said,

"We've got a plan to cut the deficit in half over the next

five years." The deficit in 2004 was $412 billion, the

largest ever. The White House now says this year's will be

$427 billion -- BUT that the plan to cut the deficit is "

on track." Man, that's some track.

To this cascading disaster, Bush wants to add $2 trillion

in transition costs over the next decade for his scheme to

partially privatize Social Security. This is one I'm

really having trouble figuring out. There is no crisis in

the Social Security program. It is not in trouble. If

nothing is done, come 2042 -- or 2052 if you believe the

Congressional Budget Office -- SS will have to start

paying less than its promised benefits, but will still be

able to pay seniors more than it does today in constant

dollars. You can easily fix even that minor problem by

lifting the cap on FICA taxes now at $90,000.

Why should people who make more than $90,000 have their

higher income exempted, when every nickel made by people

below the poverty level is taxed?

As Paul Krugman of The New York Times points out, if you

accept the Rosy Scenario the administration is using to

paint privatization as an effective scheme, then Social

Security is in no trouble at all and we don't need to do

anything about it -- economic growth will take care of it

all. Contrariwise, if you accept the doom-and-gloom

scenario the administration uses to prove that SS is in

trouble, then there's no way the privatization scheme will

be anything other than a disaster.

Dogged if I know what these people have against SS, a

program that works just fine and has kept elderly people

from having to eat cat food for many years now. Because

the right wing has somehow become a cult of anti-

government nuthatches, I have no idea where we're headed.

The purposes of government, according to the U.S.

Constitution, is "to form a more perfect union, establish

justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the

common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the

blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."

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