December 20, 2004
News RoundupEconomic Conference. George W. Bush's staged conference with friendly economists immediately turned farcical with the attendees doing doublespeak. They said Mr. Bush's tax cuts and business-friendly policies are on track to produce robust economic growth in the future; when the subject switched to Social Security, the talk switched just as quickly to doom and gloom. "The crisis is now", said Mr. Bush, even though Social Security is a manageable problem that the economy can handle if it continues growing at 3-4% for the next 50 years.
There was no discussion on the wisdom of cutting taxes in spite of the "war on terror" and the deficit caused by government spending more than what it's taking in. There was also no discussion about specific spending cuts to rein in the ballooning deficit, which increased 6-7% under Mr. Bush. As a fitting caption to this performance, the theme of the conference was misspelled twice as "Financial ChallAnges for Today and Tomorrow".
Failed Missile Test. The missile defense system which George Bush promised will be operational at the end of the year failed its first testing in two years. Formerly known as "Star Wars" under Ronald Reagan, the system has a history of botched launches and missed targets.
So why is the White House, in spite of the nation's huge budget deficit, pushing for a system that all these years hasn't worked? The answer is clear when you consider that Arizona Senator John Kyl said "one bum test will not alter support" and that Raytheon which is based in his state happens to be one of its major contractors: the system is one fat piece of pork. And what a big piece it is, having cost $130 billion to date and projected to cost $50 billion more.
Presidential Medals. Mr. Bush rewards failure by bestowing the Presidential Medal of Freedom on: former Iraq administrator Paul Bremer for leaving Iraq a military and security nightmare; retired General Tommy Franks for failing to capture Bin Laden in Tora Bora to focus on invading Iraq; and former CIA Director George Tenet for vouching for phony intelligence that launched an unjustified war.
Too bad Bernard Kerik dropped out. Like an Atrios quote said, he was "one scandal away from winning the Presidential Medal of Freedom".
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