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State of the Union, budget show Bush's affinity for horrid ideas page 3
In State of the Union Address and his new budget, President Bush is kind enough to sum up all of his terrible notions.

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Date published: 2/20/2005



President Bush must be taken to task, however, for the toll his billion-dollar-a-week war is taking on domestic programs, especially on poor and disabled Americans as well as on education, transpor-tation, and environmental spending.

Now he wants to tamper with Social Security, the one source of funds that generations of American retirees have counted on to be there and should continue to be. He says people should be allowed to invest some of those funds in the stock market and be better off. Maybe they will be, maybe not. The market offers no guarantees. Republicans have joined Democrats in questioning the plan.

The startup cost of Social Security reform, like the cost of the war, is not included in the president's budget. But like the war, it is predicated on instilling a sense of fear in Americans: "If we don't invade Iraq, Iraq will help attack us. If we don't change how Social Security works, we will all live our Golden Years in the gutter."

Americans should inform him that they're not that gullible.

His tax cuts are, however, causing real hurt for the least fortunate among us, those whose protests we are least likely to hear. The cuts spell doom for domestic assistance programs, such as Medicaid and food stamps, leaving more Americans with nowhere to turn.

In a shameful twist, Americans should be embarrassed that so many returning Iraq war veterans are having to rely on the very services that are being gutted thanks to the president's misguided policies.

Perhaps the tax cuts would be more sensible if they were part of an overall tax reform plan. But certain inequities such as the alternative minimum tax are going unaddressed. Though it was designed to make sure the richest among us pay their share, the AMT has become an onerous and unfair burden--even bankrupting some middle-class taxpayers.

How thoughtful it is for President Bush to use the State of the Union address and his proposed budget to sum up for us all that he is doing wrong.

RICHARD AMRHINE is a writer and editor with The Free Lance-Star.

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