Sunday, February 06, 2005
You're No Longer Part Of The System -- You're Above The System, Over It, Beyond It
President Bush's budget will propose slashing grants to local law enforcement agencies and cutting spending for environmental protection, American Indian schools and home-heating aid for the poor, The Associated Press learned Saturday.
Bush molded the roughly $2.5 trillion spending plan for 2006 as a response to a string of record federal deficits, and is sends it to Congress on Monday.
The budget, the toughest he has written since entering the White House four years ago, seeks about half the increase for school districts in low-income communities he requested last year and a slight reduction for the National Park Service.
Bush has said his budget will assemble federal resources for war, domestic security and other priorities and cull inefficient or redundant programs. Administration officials have said he will hold overall nondefense spending — excepting domestic security — to less than next year's expected 2.3 percent increase in inflation, meaning the programs will lose purchasing power.
"I stand with the president that we need to eliminate wasteful spending and we need to look through all the programs," said House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle, R-Iowa. "There's no question that's not the easiest thing to do in Washington."
The details obtained Saturday are the latest in a budget that will also seek savings from programs ranging from Amtrak and farmers' subsidies to Medicaid, the federal-state health program for the poor and disabled.
According to figures obtained by the AP, Bush would slice a $600 million grant program for local police agencies to $60 million next year. Grants to local firefighters, for which Congress provided $715 million this year, would fall to $500 million.
He would eliminate the $300 million the government gives to states for incarcerating illegal aliens who commit crimes. It's a proposal he has made in the past and one that Congress has ignored. Also gone would be assistance for police departments to improve technology and their ability to communicate with other agencies.
The Environmental Protection Agency's $8.1 billion would drop by $450 million, or about 6 percent, with most of the reductions coming in water programs and projects won by lawmakers for their home districts.
The Bureau of Indians Affairs would be sliced by $100 million to $2.2 billion. The reduction would come almost entirely from the agency's effort to build more schools.
The $2.2 billion program that provides low-income people — in large part the elderly — with home-heating aid would be cut to $2 billion. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said the reduction would be "wrong-headed an inappropriate," especially with this season's jump in oil prices. White House budget office spokesman Chad Kolton said Bush has added hundreds of millions of dollars to the program since taking office and said his budget will provide "adequate resources to make sure we can assist low-income Americans."
Before I go off on a more general tirade, let's get something squared away right now. Asking Congress for $80 billion more, off the books, to fund an illegal and stupid war, while slashing police and fire protection, schools, health-care, low-income heating, and the EPA (not to mention one of the mass transit systems that might've lowered our dependency on foreign oil if it was ever given a chance), is the work of a fuckin' madman, okay? To be blunt, a pack of fuckin' madmen, because someone could've told Chimpy and the Gang somewhere along the way that this is insane. None of them ever do.
For those who just don't get it: Government is a good thing. Taxes are a good thing.
See, government is really only We The People, doing collectively what we cannot do individually. And taxes are our membership fee in We The People, the relatively small amounts we all contribute adding up to enough money to Do The Job, whatever it may be.
This is anathema to such people as Grover Norquist, who wants to shrink the federal government "down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."
I want to believe that such people are good of heart, that they merely don't understand what it is government does, that they have a starry-eyed trust in The Magical Free Market. But they are not good of heart. They know exactly what they're doing. And they are, in fact, profiteering slimeballs, who believe they are better than other people because they have money. And they want the obscene amounts they used to have before the government came in and started regulating them, competing with them, and, in some cases, outperforming them.
The government is there to protect individuals and communities from the very people who are trying to destroy government. And I don't think any of the ramifications of that are being discussed anywhere near loudly enough.
In my next post, Monday, let's start that discussion.