Not fearsome casualties in Iraq, not hungry and homeless in America, not degradation of the environment everywhere can distract President Bush from his top priority — tax cuts for the rich. These are the folks who put him where he is, they and the Supreme Court, and what have poor people, blacks, the ill and the elderly ever given him? Besides, he’s rich too, and his fundamentalist base has surely instructed him on what the Lord does for those who help themselves. (If he ever went to church, which he doesn’t, he’d have heard it there.)
So the president and his congressional allies have been slashing away furiously at programs that benefit only the needy while promoting another $70 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy, on top of what he’s already given them.
Bush much prefers the unneedy, just as his favorites among children are the unborn. Health-care programs for the elderly, poor and disabled? Cut. Food stamps? Cut in one house, though not yet in the other, negotiations likely. Arkansas Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor voted against the Bush plan, incidentally.
Nowhere does the administration have more wealthy cronies than in the ranks of Big Oil. They did not go unrewarded, the Senate voting to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, despite the wise words of a senator who told his colleagues there’d be no need to violate this great natural resource if the country would get mildly serious about conservation. Fewer of those huge, gaudy gas guzzlers on the road, and a national treasure could be preserved. Ah, but the oil companies and their president would rather guzzle and gaud. Bush never calls for sacrifice. Except in Iraq. No rich people over there.
The cover of this week’s Arkansas Times asks if the Democratic Party has lost its soul. Joe Lieberman certainly has. The American Prospect magazine reports that Lieberman, long a Democrat in name only though he was the party’s vice presidential nominee in 2000, is fresh from hobnobbing with Democrat-haters William F. Buckley and Rush Limbaugh at a dinner celebrating Buckley and his conservative magazine, National Review. All three were at the table of honor, where, according to the loathsome Limbaugh, he and Lieberman had “a nice conversation.” But then, the Prospect reminds us, Lieberman practically owes his Senate seat to Buckley, who in 1988 contributed heavily to Lieberman’s campaign against a moderate incumbent Republican, Lowell Weicker, and attacked Weicker savagely in his magazine. Lieberman has been paying him back ever since. If the Supreme Court hadn’t stolen the 2000 election for the Republicans, who knows what Manchurian Candidate-type shenanigans Joe Lieberman would have been up to?