Read "Cheney under pressure to quit over false war evidence" (The Independent)
Read "Cheney under pressure to quit over false war evidence" (The Independent)
Read "Inside the Pentagon: Defense Dollars" from NOW with Bill Moyers (7/31)
How Bush's neocons and crony capitalists are ruining the economy for all of us
A Most Dangerous President
I happen to be one of those movement people who does not believe disability civil rights or "equal opportunity" will equate with a reduction of government outlay.
I happen to be one of those movement people who does not believe disability civil rights or "equal opportunity" will equate with a reduction of government outlay.To my way of thinking, equity and inclusion for disabled persons under capitalisms will mean ongoing government supports, not ending them via welfare reform for some mythological libertarian "independence" in a free-market storybook. Entitlements and rights must go hand in hand to advance disabled people's liberation.
We need to be damned concerned about what Bush's cronies are doing inside the Administration and beyond it. Under the cloak of words like "human rights," "free markets" and "democracy," current U.S. foreign policymakers have embarked on a long-planned military imperialist aggression that will cost billions of taxpayer dollars.
At the same time, the Bush administration demands more tax cuts for the richest Americans during times of recession. That has left massive deficits -- and will leave them for years to come. This portends a further narrowing of social programs -- read restriction of civil rights and a rollback of expenditures on public healthcare, education and social services.
Across the nation the official unemployment rate is over 6 percent (double that to include those who have given up finding a job). Teachers are being laid off, schools closed, healthcare pared down, in-home support services curbed, college aid slashed.
How can that happen in the richest nation in the world?
Since 1973 the reigning economic ideology has been neoliberalism. Under neoliberalism, the elites moved to protect the rates of investment profit by appropriating an increased share of the treasury's surplus in light of the steadily-slowing growth of the global economy as a whole. If the elites and corporations get more, and the pie doesn't get that much bigger (like now), the people get less.
At a time when inequality is at a 70-year high, Bush has given the rich $1.6 trillion in tax cuts through 2010 and promised more -- nearly $2 trillion through 2013 (including added interest on the national debt), according to figures from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Bush's "growth package" would cost the treasury $726 billion over ten years, according to the Tax Policy Center, and result in tax reductions averaging $90,000 annually for each American with an annual income of more than $1 million.
The predicament is dire. Sources estimate up to a trillion-dollar deficit each year for the next five years. A Brookings Institution study shows that Bush's militarism will require a 40 percent cut in spending on discretionary programs -- items like IDEA, housing, assistive technology -- over the next decade.
"More extreme Republicans," reported London's Financial Times, actually want what New York Times economic columnist Paul Krugman called a "fiscal train wreck": "Proposing to slash federal spending, particularly on social programs, is a tricky electoral proposition," it said, "but a fiscal crisis offers the tantalizing prospect of forcing such cuts through the back door.".
After the Bush machine got an $80 billion war down payment, the House passed a FY 2004 budget bill that would cut $18.5 million from SSI, $14 billion from veterans' programs, $13 billion from food stamps, and $1.2 billion from child care programs.
That bill, blocked by the Senate, would have cut $94 billion, over 10 years, from Medicaid. The $94 billion may not be cut directly from that program now, since the Senate nixed it, but administration skullduggery is attempting to gull people (and bribe state officials) by providing some extra money along with structural changes that promise to wreck Medicaid later.
Bush funding-formula changes meant nearly 3.9 million children, over 1.2 million disabled people, almost 690,000 seniors, and approximately 1.7 million other adults stood to lose health coverage, according to Families USA.
The broke states, faced with the worst budget crisis in 50 years, are already cutting or slapping co-payments onto the "optional" benefits which the federal government does not mandate states to provide. People are losing Medicaid "optionals" such as prescription drugs, rehabilitative services, dental services, physical therapy and eyeglasses, to name but a few. In California Gov. Davis points to artificial limbs and braces and grimaces, "Let's do [cut] these.".
Some states are halting progress on home- and community-based services and rolling back in-home support services. In Bush's home state of Texas, tens of thousands were targeted to lose services.
By the end of this fiscal year 49 states will have cut Medicaid, and 32 will have cut it twice.
Current policy can be dropped at the feet of the neoconservatives -- "neocons" -- running U.S. foreign policy.
Remember when U.S. Army Brigadier General Vincent Brooks unveiled pictures of 55 "wanted" men from Saddam's administration at a briefing at Central Command in Qatar? These were pictures of those whom the U.S. wanted chased, caught or killed.
The Trade Regulation Organization -- a spoof on the World Trade Organization run by the Yes Men, a loose-knit group of online hoaxters -- then issued a "55 most wanted" playing-card deck similar to the one the Pentagon issued in Iraq. The heads here, though, are the neocons and American Enterprise Institute think-tank fellows who have moved national policy to that of "preventative" war and opened the door to unilateral attacks on any nation deemed a threat to U.S. interests.
In this deck, Bush factors in only as a 4 of Clubs (but the head shot of Bush in front of the Great Seal of Office makes him seem to be sporting a halo). Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is the Ace of Diamonds, and Bush senior advisor Karl Rove is the Ace of Clubs.
The Ace of Spades in the deck is Dick Cheney. Iraq War I was good to Cheney financially. While Cheney was CEO of Halliburton, its subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root got a lucrative contract to reconstruct the demolished oil fields after Iraq I. Halliburton is reportedly setting aside even more sums of money for Cheney for when he leaves public office.
Norman Podhoretz, editor of Commentary, and Irving Kristol, editor of The Public Interest, two of the most influential leaders of the neocon community, are missing from the deck -- a major oversight since they have buoyed the neocon line for the American public. But publishing magnate Rupert Murdock is the King of Hearts. Irving's son William Kristol edits Murdock's magazine The Weekly Standard. Podhoretz once claimed that the neocons "shook the position of leftists and liberals in the world of ideas and by doing so cleared the way to the presidency of Ronald Reagan.".
The neocons -- William Bennett is also amongst them -- diagnosed the 1960s student unrest, counter-cultural movements, concern for poverty and racial justice, the women's liberation movement as "cultural problems," a "moral breakdown in society." They attacked social welfare programs because these programs, they claim, cause dependency on government rather than the corporation. Ending "dependency" was part of the economic rationale for passing the ADA -- crips will get jobs and they'll quit taking government handouts.
The American Enterprise Institute is a well-funded right-wing think-tank that for years has been making the case for getting rid of entitlements. Bush has appointed some 20 AEI fellows to his administration. Richard Perle, who resigned his chairmanship of Bush's Defense Policy Board over a business conflict of interest, is a fellow at AEI.
AEI sees "entitlement spending" as consuming too much of the budget and doomed to programmatic failure. The neocon directive is toward increasing the military budget and "national security." "Freedom" at home means fewer entitlements (fewer jobs as well). "Freedom" abroad means military might to impose rule that will carry out the interests of the U.S. corporations.
Michael Ledeen, holder of the Freedom Chair at AEI, says, "Every ten years or so, the U. S. needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business," reports The National Review's Jonah Goldberg.
It's actually better planned than that. If Americans had looked deeply enough they would have found the rationale for war in the Middle East laid out in The Project for the New American Century's 1997 "Statement of Principles." The group is neither a secret cabal nor its goals any conspiracy theory. It was run out of Kristol's Weekly Standard Office, and is online.
The statement, signed by Rumsfeld, Podhoretz, Cheney, Bennett and Enron's Ken Lay, plus a few others like the president's brother, Jeb Bush, asserted that conservatives had not fought for a big enough military budget and vowed to "maintain American security and advance American interests in the new century.".
The language is clearly imperialist: the U. S. "stands as the world's preeminent power"; we must "increase defense spending significantly" and "promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad"; the U. S. needs "the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests." The neocons have never made any secret of their imperialist intent.
The founding document of neocon policy is the Defense Planning Guidance drafted for Cheney in 1992 during his stint as defense secretary. Written by Paul Wolfowitz (Wolfie), now Bush's deputy secretary of defense, and "Scooter" Lewis Libby, then Cheney's chief of staff and another AEI fellow, with input from Rumsfeld and four of Diamonds Jeb Bush, this document raised the idea of "pre-emptive" attacks and called on America to increase military spending to a level that would make the U.S. virtually unchallenged in the world.
The neocons and crony capitalists have come together in one big giddy-on-power Dubya cocktail government -- making him a most dangerous president.
In Eugene, Oregon, parents and teachers and friends of the public school are selling their blood plasma to raise money for next year's school budget. What is this kind of pressure going to add to the budget woes of inclusive education?
The House gutted IDEA April 30. Every disabled kid receiving any kind of education services is affected. "Right of appeal? Gone," a parent wrote me in frustration: "Yearly reviews? Let's make those optional, every three years. Legal fees? Limit what families can hope to retrieve in fighting mistreatment from the school district (the school districts have no such limits).".
AARP reported that one-third of disabled people over 50 have postponed healthcare because of cost. This is an increase over previous surveys -- yet a lot more state health spending cuts and private health insurance out-of-pocket expense increases are on the way. The future portends worse as insurance companies hike premiums over 10 percent in one year.
Meanwhile Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), the under-rated Seven of Diamonds, told the Tennesseean in May that Medicare is an "antiquated system" that cannot sustain itself in the current healthcare market. Frist is part owner of Columbia/HCA, the healthcare corporation nabbed by the government for tens of thousands of dollars of fraudulent Medicare billing.
Domestic programs, crony capitalism and the national bent towards militarism are connected. Militarism is diverting money from state and local governments. While AEI complains "entitlement programs are crowding out rest of government," the U.S. spends more than the defense budgets of countries with the next 14 biggest militaries combined, and is accelerating production of state-of-the-art weapons of mass destruction -- initiating another costly arms race.
Bush, in his Memorial Day speech, referred to the "battles of Afghanistan and Iraq" as mere moments in Cheney's 50-year war. As author Michael Hardt, author of Empire, said on WBAI recently, war used to be considered an exception; now the exception has become the norm.
This administration, while squandering our public treasury and then some, has committed itself to generous public services in Iraq. It claims schools will be repaired, damaged infrastructure rebuilt, and education made available to the poorest. It promises a quality universal health program of the kind that has been denied Americans.
As Disabled Peoples' International puts it, "Peace is a disability issue." A peace economy is, too.
For starters, disabled Americans could insist upon a re-allocation of 15 percent or more of "defense" money to the domestic front just by canceling weapons systems and Star Wars. With that savings, the U.S. could fund -- at no additional taxpayer expense -- universal disability-inclusive health services at home, education for disabled students and in-home support services. They could create decent-paying jobs and meet lots of other human needs as well.
Marta Russell is author of Beyond Ramps: Disability at the End of the Social Contract.. Visit her website at http://www.disweb.org.
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