If results matter, just look

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner


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George W. Bush’s new campaign slogan is “Results Matter.” As the election approaches, I suggest we examine the record to see how well President Bush’s results have matched his promises over the last four years.

George Bush and Dick Cheney promised to cut health-care costs. The Bush-Cheney 2000 Web site stated, “There are 43 million uninsured Americans. … George W. Bush will reverse this trend by making health insurance affordable for hard-working, low-income families.” In reality, under Bush, the number of uninsured Americans has grown and health insurance premiums have increased by 12.5 percent per year.

The budget-busting $530 billion prescription drug bill will provide little relief and prohibits Medicare from negotiating for lower drug costs.

They promised to be fiscally conservative. The Bush-Cheney 2000 Web site stated, “As president, Governor Bush will … pay the debt down to a historically low level.” In reality, they have turned a record surplus into a record deficit of $445 billion this year alone.

Much of the debt has arisen from increased discretionary spending by a Republican Congress and irresponsible tax cuts focused on the richest Americans. The Bush tax cuts alone account for more than half of the 2004 deficit.

They promised to protect Social Security. Their Web site stated, “The Social Security surplus must be locked away only for Social Security.” Instead, they spent $159 billion of the Social Security trust fund in 2002 alone. Because Social Security taxes were used to pay for tax cuts and the war in Iraq, Alan Greenspan is now warning that Social Security benefits will probably have to be cut.

They promised to create jobs. In 2002, they claimed that tax cuts would provide an “economic stimulus” and create 300,000 jobs per month. In reality, they only created 32,000 jobs in July and Bush is likely to be the first president since Herbert Hoover to have a net loss of jobs during his watch.

Because the tax cuts were heavily tilted to the very rich, took years to implement and shifted the tax burden from investment income to wage income, they were poorly designed as an economic stimulus package.

A more effective and cheaper economic stimulus package would have been short-term tax cuts for middle-class workers and financial aid to states. For most families, the benefit from the Bush income tax cuts will be more than offset by increases in local taxes, health-care costs, gasoline prices and college tuition and by cuts to services.

They are still making unrealistic promises. They are now promising to cut the size of the deficit in half by 2009, but their forecast includes unrealistic domestic budget cuts, doesn’t include the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ignores the costs of implementing their own proposals to make the tax cuts permanent.

Even under these very unrealistic budget forecasts, the size of the deficit decreases only until 2009, then increases rapidly as the baby boomers start to retire in 2011.

Since the last election, the country has had to deal with corporate scandals, the attacks of Sept. 11 and a lagging economy. Not all of these factors were under President Bush’s control, but he came into office with a massive budget surplus.

He could have chosen to spend money on rebuilding our roads and schools (fixing school buildings alone is estimated to cost $127 billion), stimulating job creation, paying down the debt or addressing the looming health-care crisis.

Instead, he chose to spend the surplus and more on tax cuts that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, have shifted the overall tax burden from the rich to the middle class, and to pay $200 billion for the war in Iraq.

Whatever your views on the war in Iraq, everyone should agree that we, not our children, should pay the costs. The current deficit spending means that our children will have to pay for the cost of the war in Iraq on top of their own defense needs, which likely will include the continuing threat of terrorism.

This massive debt puts the U.S. economy at the mercy of foreign investors, endangers Social Security and Medicare, increases our interest payments and limits our ability to react to future economic crises.

Despite the fact that the Republicans have controlled the House of Representatives, the Senate and the presidency for four years, the reality has consistently fallen far short of the promises. This year, don’t believe the rhetoric, look at George Bush’s record and hold him accountable, because “Results Matter.”

Alex Prichard is a 10-year Fairbanks resident.

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