Bush's Valentine. .

AuthorRothschild, Matthew

As President Bush has been gearing up for war against Iraq, I'm struck by the irrationality of it all. Iraq is not the grave and imminent threat Bush makes it out to be. Most of our allies do not share Bush's obsession. The war could exact a huge cost in terms of human life. It could enflame the Middle East. And it could rattle our economy.

So why would Bush go forward? Oil, for one thing. Flexing American muscle, for another. Gaining political advantage, a third. Vanquishing a foe of ally Israel, a possible fourth. Yet another reason may have something to do with the messiah complex the President appears to be afflicted with. We explore this touchy subject in our Comment on page 8.

Bush's stimulus program is a stimulus for the country club set. This year, according to Citizens for Tax Justice, the top 1 percent of Americans--those making $374,000 or more--stand to gain $30,000 each, while the lowest 20 percent will get only a $6 tax cut. Enough for a cheeseburger and a beer!

Aside from being grossly skewed toward his golfing buddies, Bush's plan is not a smart way to jump-start the economy.

First of all, it is back-loaded. Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, notes, "It would cost $674 billion through 2013 but would put out only $102 billion in the first year, the period when the stimulus is needed."

And secondly, it is geared precisely to the population that is least likely to spend the money right away. The poor and the middle class have pressing needs that they are waiting to meet but can't afford. Giving them some purchasing power would rev up the economy much more than would fattening the investment accounts of the wealthy.

The Republicans make strange Keynesians. Bush's tax program proves they've been playing games with the issue of the deficit forever...

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