by James Glaser
When ever I make one of those "to do" lists, I always start with the most important things first. I have even been known to add in some totally frivolous jobs to the list, so I'll have something to cross off making it look like I had actually accomplished some things.
On every list there are some things that naturally recur, like paying the house payment, insurance, and utilities. Our government in Washington has lists of things it must do too. Maybe they don't write them down and put them in a check-off list, but maybe they should. That way we would know what and if they were doing anything,
Right now national security seems to be at the top of the Bush administration list, and it probably should be, but there are other things that recur constantly that should make any government "to-do" list. One of those recurring government jobs is to look out for the welfare of our elderly. If you think about that, it is also part of national security.
Sure America's enemies seem to be the biggest threat today, but in truth, we have more citizens in harm's way because of poverty than any terrorist attack could ever reach.
Because of George Bush's political philosophy, one of his top priorities after national defense, is to cut taxes. You would think it would be written "to cut taxes and make government smaller," but George Bush has this strange idea about cutting taxes and making government bigger.
Bush wants to spend more on government, but he also wants to cut taxes. You can do that if you want to start paying cost overruns with a credit card, and run up the debt for future generations. That is just what the Bush Administration and Congress have been doing for the last five years, but even they cannot stick all of their new spending on that credit card. So they have to make some cuts some place to make it appear like they are actually trying to be fiscally responsible.
That is where priorities come into play. Frederic J. Frommer of the Associated Press writes, "The boxes arrive every month at churches, senior citizen centers, and other sites for distribution to nearly half-million elderly people. Each is stocked with a mix of nutritious foods such as cereal, peanut butter, fruit, vegetables, and pasta. Sometimes volunteers deliver them right to people's homes."
The program Frommer is writing about is titled "the Commodity Supplemental Food Program,"(CSFP) and it is just one of the 141 federal programs George Bush wants to cut out so that he can spend more on National Defense, keep cutting taxes, (mostly for the wealthy), and look like he is being responsible with our nation's budget. Herb Kohl is a multimillionaire, and he is also a Unites States Senator from Wisconsin. Here is what Senator Kohl has to say about the cuts George Bush wants to make in the nation's to-do list. "I call it misplaced priorities. How do you justify doing something like this, [cutting an elderly food program] while at the same time giving people like Herb Kohl huge tax cuts?"
Now George Bush and his administration will tell you that they want to cut this food for elderly program so that these people can then go on food stamps. It is more or less a streamlining thing. The problem is, according to Tim Robertson, president of the National CSFP Association, the group which represents the organizations that administer this elderly food program that is about to be cut, "Seniors have repeatedly said they don't want to be on that program." That is because of the perceived stigma of using food stamps.
Even though Washington is telling our seniors that food stamps are not a welfare program, they have that connotation. Many people have too much pride to go on what they consider the "dole."
Many seniors will suffer greatly, rather than take food stamps. Plus there is the fact that volunteers distribute much of this food, which keeps seniors unable to drive to the store in their own homes. Keeping seniors in their own homes, is a great way to save money, as assisted living facilities and nursing homes are way more expensive for the government.
So, it comes down to priorities. George Bush wants to continue spending at the greatest rate our country ever has. He also wants to keep cutting taxes for the wealthy of this country, and he now has realized that he can not keep on borrowing every penny that he is spending. Even George Bush now knows that you can't keep writing checks at the same rate, when your income goes down. Tax cuts lower the income of our national government. (I know, I know, those in charge in Washington will tell you that less taxes means more money for the federal government.) That is another one of those Bush family fuzzy math things. But the truth is that George Bush has added more to our national debt, than any other president in history.
So we are back to priorities, and George Bush has decided to take away food from a half million elderly Americans and cut some 140 other programs, like veterans' health care and student loans, so that he can give back more money to the richest people in this country. It is a choice we make every time we make one of those to-do lists. The rich people in America, and their tax cut have a higher priority on George's to-do list, than the feeding of a half million poor people.
You can say that is wrong and many people do, or you can say that is progress, and we have to get rid of these government handouts if we want to have tax cuts and more spending on national security.
Maybe if we just got rid of all the poor elderly in this country, we wouldn't even have to worry about having them on some to-do list. Maybe that is on George's to-do list.
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