More Dispatches From the War on the Poor

Another bulletin from the front in George W. Bush's ongoing -- and highly succesful -- War on the Poor (and on all those labor and are heavy-laden: the weak, the sick, the old, the damaged, the children, the working folk). This time, it's Fightin' Joe Conason coming out smoking in the NY Observer with a battlefield round-up of the latest triumphs in the Bush Blitzkrieg. There has never been such a sustained, deliberate and relentless assault on the well-being of ordinary Americans in the nation's history. And it is here -- in the gutted ruins of once-good lives, once-strong communities and a once-thriving republic -- that Bush will leave his true legacy. For make no mistake: even if this little yapping twerp, this corporate pimp, this slack-jawed, drink-addled dullard posing as a president were to be impeached tomorrow, it will take at least a generation -- and probably longer -- to repair even some of the social, political, spiritual and financial destruction he will leave behind.

Here are some excerpts from Conason's excellent compendium:

...Unmoved by the plight of the poor—who are growing poorer and hungrier, according to the latest government data—Congressional leaders last week decided that the best way to pare spending is to reduce the number of families that qualify for food stamps. A bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee on Oct. 28 would make roughly 300,000 Americans ineligible to receive food stamps and cut the program by about $850 million over the next five years.
 
The fiscal impact of all those cuts will be negligible, especially compared with the subsidies that these same Christian gentlemen insist on providing to energy, agribusiness and other major interests. But these gratuitous acts of unkindness will surely harm the unfortunate children who have less to eat as a result...

Of course, these “compassionate conservatives” did not content themselves with cutting food stamps. They are also contemplating cutbacks in Medicaid, the health-insurance program that serves the poor, specifically targeting millions of low-income children for reduced services and co-payments. Kids living in poverty are going to be deprived of eyeglasses, hearing aids and other crucial care.
 
School lunches are also going to be cut for some of those little losers whose families need food stamps, incidentally. And kids who need child support will also be out of luck, because the powerful House Ways and Means Committee has determined to cut back enforcement efforts against deadbeat parents. The Republicans, who deem themselves “pro-family,” are determined to squeeze a few more bucks from low-income foster families and student-loan recipients as well.

What these politicians will not consider, as they ponder legislation between fund-raising banquets and golf outings, is any measure that might demand sacrifice from those who can well afford it.....Consider the energy industry, which has just reported record profits while gouging the public with the highest gasoline and heating-oil prices ever seen in this country. Three months ago, President Bush signed legislation passed by the Congressional Republicans that awards $14.5 billion in subsidies to the oil and gas industry. But that wasn’t enough, because in early October the House passed still another round of oil subsidies...

But oilmen aren’t the only beneficiaries of this Congress of the absurd. While households with annual incomes above $1 million have reaped an average benefit of more than $100,000 from the Republican tax cuts, the Congressional leaders, in their wisdom, want to award still more breaks to that tiny aristocracy of wealth. According to the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities, the plan is to strip out a pair of obscure tax laws signed by the President’s father in 1990. Repealing those provisions would lavish another $20,000 a year on households with incomes over $1 million—at a cost to the Treasury of nearly $150 billion over the next 10 years.

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