Thursday, February 03, 2005

Nine Things President Bush Won't – But Should – Say in Tonight's Speech

Daily Reality Check
Nine Things President Bush Won't – But Should – Say in Tonight's Speech
President Bush has undoubtedly received no shortage of advice on what to include in tonight's State of the Union address. Nevertheless, we've decided to provide some helpful tips of our own – even though you'd be more likely to find WMD in Iraq than any of our suggestions in Bush's speech. That's why we're offering the "Nine Things President Bush Won't – But Should – Say in Tonight's Speech."
1. "Last year I promised the troops that my administration would 'give you the resources you need to fight and win the war on terror.' I haven't followed through, and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's comment about going to war 'with the Army you have,' didn't help matters. I've asked him to resign."
Although President Bush made the requisite overtures to the troops during last year's State of the Union address, it was Rumsfeld's blunt and tactless comment that revealed this administration's real approach.
2. "I haven't figured out how to pay for my Social Security privatization scheme."
While the White House has spent most of its time figuring out how to sell its plans (Let's call them "private accounts" – no, "personal accounts"!), they haven't even bothered to try to figure out how to foot the bill. Early reports indicate that the Bush administration is simply planning to hide the estimated $1-2 trillion price tag by not including it in budget deficit projections.
3. "Last year, I called on Congress to make my tax cuts permanent 'for the sake of job growth.' The truth is that my tax cuts haven't created nearly as many jobs as my administration repeatedly predicted."
President Bush's misleading rhetoric on the economy has taken a back seat to higher-profile misleading comments he's made recently on Social Security and the war in Iraq. But that doesn't mean he's giving up on making his tax cuts for the rich permanent. (He simply won't talk about how the immense price tag will cause the deficit to explode.) The fact of the matter is that, according to research from the Economy Policy Institute, Bush's tax cuts failed to meet job growth predictions in all but two states – Hawaii and Wyoming.
4. "I just wanted to let everyone know – we haven't forgotten about Osama bin Laden."
Bush omitted mention of bin Laden in last year's State of the Union address, even though it was primarily focused on foreign policy and the War on Terror.
5. "I acknowledge that there is a health care crisis in this country, and I pledge to help the 45 million Americans without health insurance."
While the Bush team has worked feverishly to fabricate a Social Security crisis (even though the program will remain fully solvent for almost another 40 years), America is experiencing a real health care crisis right now. And yet, President Bush has been nearly silent on this issue. If only there was a solution that involved increased fees for Wall Street…
6. "Some of you are probably still wondering about the Valerie Plame affair, where someone in my administration leaked the name of an undercover CIA agent as political payback. Some of you have forgotten about it, meaning that my strategy of burying it just might be working."
Remember the Plame affair? We haven't heard much about it lately, but that doesn't erase the fact that this administration engaged in a dirty political trick simply to warn Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, not to speak out against the Bush team.
7. "I have a definite plan in Iraq. Let me now explain it to you, point by point."
Ok, even two years later, this is still just wishful thinking on our part. Unfortunately.
8. "As the leader of my administration, I take full responsibility for our unethical practice of paying journalists to act as spokespeople for our policies."
Bush has wrongfully won praise for his decision to end this practice. Wrongfully, not because it's a bad call on his part (it isn't, he finally made the right move), but A) it never should have happened in the first place, and B) because he heaped all the blame on his subordinates, like Education Secretary Rod Paige, and didn't own up to it himself. Quite frankly, this isn't consistent with his cherished image as a "strong leader.
9. "I don't have a real plan to balance the budget. I was just funnin' around during that election."
Finally, President Bush should level with the American people about this: balancing the budget isn't on his administration's list of priorities. It should be, but it's not. First, they turned a $127 billion surplus into record deficits. Then, they tried to win praise by promising to cut those self-created shortfalls by half in five years. Now, it already looks like that can't happen. Already this year's estimated deficit of $427 billion is much higher than the White House claimed it would be last summer. Now reports indicate that the president's budget will virtually freeze non-defense discretionary spending – squeezing government programs instead of cutting those ridiculous tax cuts. It's classic "starve the beast" conservative mentality – but it's not leading to lower deficits for two reasons: A) Bush hasn't been able to freeze spending – he hasn't vetoed a spending bill sent to him by the Republican Congress yet, and B) his tax cuts for the rich are so expensive, they're blotting out everything else. And let's not even get started on the trade deficit…
What do these nine statements have in common? They require President Bush to go on television and level with the American public – something that he has proven utterly incapable of doing on virtually every issue he's been confronted with (or, in the case of Social Security, created). It would be nice to think that Bush would come clean on all these issues, but the odds are better that he'll be the first president to deliver a State of the Union while wearing a flight suit.