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