Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Bush Bait and Switch-Part I

from grannyhelen

In which George W. Bush and the Republican Party Promise the American Voters One Thing Before the Election, and Then Swindle Them Once in Office.

This segment's broken promises: social security, transportation and education.

This is my question to every Republican voter out there: did you vote for this? Did you vote for Social Security to be privatized? Did you vote for Medicaid to be cut for the poorest Americans, and the poorest children?

Well, this hardly compassionate agenda is actually not what Bush and the Republican Party ran on in the November elections. Insightful excerpts from the 2004 Republican Party Platform follow.

It's clear what this new budget is: a prime example of Bush's bait-and-switch to the American electorate. People did not vote for this budget, Bush did not run on this budget, and the American voter needs to let him know in 2006 that you can't tell somebody you want to do one thing, and then do something else.

For instance, on social security, here's what the 2004 Republican Party Platform said Bush would do (my emphasis added, obviously):

Social Security needs to be strengthened and enhanced for our children and grandchildren. Republicans remain committed to the principles the President outlined:

Anyone now receiving Social Security, or close to being eligible for it, is guaranteed that their benefits will not be cut and their taxes will not be raised. Social Security is a promise made by this country to its citizens and Republicans will keep that promise.

Key changes to Social Security should merit bipartisan agreement so all improvements are a win for the American people rather than a political victory for any one party...

Personal retirement accounts must be the cornerstone of strengthening and enhancing Social Security. Each of today's workers should be free to direct a portion of their payroll taxes to personal investments for their retirement. It is crucial that individuals be offered a variety of investment alternatives and that detailed information be provided to each participant to help them judge the risks and benefits of each plan. Today's financial markets offer a variety of investment options, including some that guarantee a rate of return higher than the current Social Security system with no risk to the investor...

...This is a challenge that demands leadership. President Bush has shown this leadership by proposing a bold alternative to the collapse of Social Security. Along with Americans everywhere, we pledge to join him in this endeavor of a lifetime. Individual ownership of voluntary personal retirement accounts for today's workers will make Social Security more equitable, but, just as importantly; will put the system on sure financial footing... Doing nothing is not an option. We must keep faith with both the past and the future by strengthening and enhancing Social Security. We believe that everyone who participates in the Social Security program should use legal and accurate identification. President Bush formed a bipartisan commission that recommended three models for reform and many Republicans in Congress have exhibited leadership in sponsoring six different bills. Non-partisan analysis of these proposals shows that each strengthens Social Security and that each shares a common characteristic: giving workers the option of supplementing Social Security with personal retirement accounts that they own. Our Party supports the efforts of President Bush and Congressional Republicans to enact legislation during the next term.


Okay, question for the group: where are these proposals and where is the non-partisan analysis that shows that each strengthens social security?

Ironically, this Republican plan sounds very much like Clinton's proposal to use the budget surpluses to allow individuals to start independent savings accounts to supplement social security. The difference is Clinton's plan for independent savings accounts was in addition to (not in place of) the standard social security benefit, and he was not proposing to increase the deficit, or lower the amount of money going into the system, in order to start these personal accounts. Details of Clinton's sound, sober and fiscally responsible social security program are here: http://www.ici.org/issues/ret/arc-leg/99_pres_soc.html. Obviously, comparing the Clinton plan and the GOP's rhetoric before the election, I think most voters - if they even bothered to get this far in the party platform - felt that the Republican proposal would resemble Clinton's, and not the one Bush is proposing right now.

But...what about Bush's other cuts? Were they foreshadowed in the Republican Party Platform that he ran on before the November elections?

Here's what the 2004 Republican Party Platform says about national railway systems:

Transportation

A safe and efficient transportation system is essential to keeping people and goods moving and cities and communities prosperous. Congestion and delay not only waste our time as individuals, they also burden businesses and our entire economy with inefficiency and higher costs. Republicans strongly support a comprehensive transportation policy agenda that enhances safety, reduces congestion, modernizes infrastructure, and promotes economic growth.

Our national railroad network is a crucial component of our public transportation system. Railroads helped build our country, and our national passenger railroad network plays a key role in transportation and economic growth. Republicans support, where economically viable, the development of a high-speed passenger railroad system as an instrument of economic development and enhanced mobility. Republicans support a healthy intercity passenger rail system. Amtrak provides a valuable service to passengers, especially in the Northeast corridor. But we recognize that the goal of establishing a national passenger rail system with modest federal support has failed to materialize. Clearly the financial problems plaguing Amtrak cannot be solved simply by continued infusions of taxpayer dollars. Fundamental reforms should be enacted to transition Amtrak into operational self-sufficiency.


Hmmm...didn't see the words "gut Amtrak" anywhere in this document. What I read was "fundamental reforms" which would "transition Amtrak into operational self-sufficiency".

Let's move onto education, and the President's plan to cut funds for cutting 48 education programs, including one for removing drugs from schools. The Springfield, Missouri News Leader reports:

The proposed cuts include $1.1 billion in state vocational education grants, $496 million for educational technology grants, and $437 million for safe and drug free schools.


What does the 2004 Republican Party Platform say about these cuts in educational programs?

Public education, access for every child to an excellent education, is a foundation of a free, civil society. The children who enter schools today will leave as young adults, full of dreams for the future. They will soon become the scientists and researchers who make great discoveries, the engineers and mathematicians who build our communities, the doctors and nurses who heal and comfort the sick, the teachers who will educate the next generation, the leaders who transform government, the poets, artists, and writers who entertain and inspire. Every child deserves a first-rate education, because every child holds infinite potential, and we should give them every opportunity to reach it.

We believe there is an inseparable link between a vibrant economy and a high-quality education system. It takes a vibrant economy to provide the tax base necessary to fund a high-quality education system. Equally, it takes a quality education system to provide the highly skilled labor force necessary to meet the demands of a growing, vibrant economy...

...We are the Party parents can trust to improve schools and provide opportunity for all children, in every neighborhood, regardless of background or income. We are the party willing to embrace new ideas and put them to the test. Americans agree that the status quo in education is no longer acceptable. We have challenged low expectations and poor achievement, and we are seeing results.


But wait...what does it say about funding education specifically? Don't they mention anywhere that they will be cutting educational programs?

Well, here it is in their own words:

Historic Levels of Funding

President Bush and Congressional Republicans have provided the largest increase in federal education funding in history and the highest percentage gain since the 1960s. Support for elementary and secondary education has had the largest increase in any single Presidential term since the 1960s - an increase of nearly 50 percent since 2001. The President and Congress are particularly focused on programs for America's neediest students, including minorities and children with special needs. With this increased funding comes a new focus on achievement and results...

Higher Education Affordability

Republicans are working to ensure that college is affordable and accessible for America's low- and middle-income families through increased funding of grants, low-interest student loans, and tax breaks for working families. As a result of Republican leadership, total student aid for higher education has increased to a historic $73 billion proposed for 2005. Next year, almost 10 million students and parents will receive one or more grants, loans, or work-study awards.

The President has requested record levels of Pell Grant funding. These grants will help an estimated 5.3 million low-income students pay for higher education - one million more students than when President Bush and Vice President Cheney came to office. Under a new Enhanced Pell Grant proposal, low-income students who take a rigorous high school curriculum - the kind of curriculum that will best prepare them for success in college - will be eligible to receive an additional $1,000 per year.

To ensure that America remains the world leader in the innovation economy - and to ensure that America's graduates have the training they need to compete for the best jobs of the 21st century - President Bush proposes to expand opportunities for math and science education in colleges and universities. Needy students studying math and science will be eligible to receive additional college aid...


I've read through the entire section of the Republican Party Platform as it pertains to their educational policies and initiatives, and guess what? Nowhere does it mention that part of their platform is cutting educational programs.

Imagine that.

Part 2, In Which the American Voters Get Screwed By Republican Party Pre-Election Promises on Health Care, Medicaid, Farm Subsidies and Veterans Benefits, Follows Soon.

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