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Phony Domestic Agenda

Reported by Judy - September 3, 2004 -

This week's Republican convention was more about appealing to the party's base than attracting independent swing voters. I can't imagine many soccer moms being swept off their feet by Zell Miller's uncontrolled anger. When we finally heard about what Bush would do in a second term, much of it turned out to be phony.

Bush offered hardly any details of the laundry list of proposals he laid out. He said you could find those on his web site, but they're not always there. The details that are offered turn out to be a mishmash of continuing programs that are already in place, re-proposing things that have failed in the past, or contradictory of each other.

Let's start with Item 1. Bush promised to "restrain government spending," reduce government regulations, and make the tax cuts permanent. Like that last item was a surprise. The promise to restrain government spending is a joke coming from this big-spender. His proposal was to pass the line item veto, something that would take years to take effect, if it could even be passed. As for his pledge to cut the deficit in half, Bush apparently is counting on a 20 percent expansion in the economy over the next five years to bring in more taxes.

Making the nation less dependent on foreign sources of oil was mostly code for drilling in the Alaska wilderness and more nuclear power, both warmed-over ideas. Spending $4 billion on new energy technology sounds new to me, but should have been proposed four years ago.

His pledge to create more jobs by expanding trade was nothing more than a pledge to negotiate better trade agreements. Whoopee.

Then came protecting small business from law suits. That's code for making it harder for victims injured by dangerous products or incompetent doctors to sue for damages. What in the world is new about this?

The fifth proposal was just plain silly -- reform the tax system to be simpler and fairer, with incentives for growth. When Congress tinkers with the tax code, it invariably gets more complicated, not more simple. Even more ridiculous was his proposal for a "bipartisan panel" to work on the proposal. Wonder what Democrats he plans to put on the panel -- Zell Miller? He also said the changes should make the tax system "pro-growth." Is that code for cutting capital gains taxes? Or has he flip-flopped again and decided a national sales tax would be a good idea?

Next, Bush wants to double job training ($250 million) and provide more money for community colleges ($1 billion for more vocational education and $125 million to pay for high school students who want to attend classes at community colleges.)

His big education proposals? More No Child Left Behind and spending $250 million for high school graduation tests. Not $250 million for more teachers, better facilities, or anything else that might actually contribute to more learning on the part of students. Just another test, and one that many states already require, to boot.

Hot on the heels of implementation of new overtime rules that rob many working people of the extra pay they often depend on, Bush also proposed changes in regulations to encourage compensatory time and flex-time. This is code for reducing overtime. If one worker offers to work late in order to take time off later and another worker wants overtime pay, which worker will the employer offer the extra hours to?

Social security personal accounts is another non-new idea. It's a full-employment plan for money-managers who will get rich from churning the investments of people with little knowledge of investment. This is special interest-pay back.

Other proposals in Bush's domestic agenda were more of the same policies: continuing to oppose abortion, more faith-based program, appointment of judges who think the constitution should mean the same thing in 2004 as it did in 1789, and promotion of abstinence instead of sex education.

Bush took some shots at John Kerry's spending proposals, saying that "tax and spend" are the politics of the past. He's right. Now it's "borrow and spend."