BARNSTORMING 

Are taxpayers funding Republican propaganda?

DEATH AND TAXES Let’s all take a little stroll over to http://www.ustreas.gov/press/releases/js1313.htm , shall we? Scroll down to the bottom of this U.S. Department of Treasury press release and you will discover the following line: “America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the President's policies are doing; or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation.” Now let’s hop over to http://www.rnc.org/News/Read.aspx?ID=4069 the website for The Republican National Committee. There you will discover a remarkably similar line reading: “America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the President's policies are doing; or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation." Oh, wait. Did I say similar? How silly of me. The two lines are exactly the same semi-colons and all. How very odd: how terribly, terribly odd that the department of the treasury, forbidden by law to engage in partisan politics, would excerpt such an obvious G.O.P. propaganda, and include it on their website as gospel fact. I say “obvious propaganda,” not because it may also be found at gop.com, but because the statement, a clear endorsement of President Bush’s policies is beyond debatable. It’s empty political rhetoric not factual analysis, and arguable to say the least. In fact, it’s deceptive to the point of being an outright lie. Is the economy growing? A bit, yes. But it’s still, for all intents and purposes, a jobless “recovery” that is really no recovery at all. Surely, March was a banner month for job creation under the Bush plan, but that was one strong month after three years of abysmal job creation numbers: numbers that fall pathetically short of the administration’s overly optimistic projections. By their own standards the plan is a failure. Would a chart be of any help here? Here’s one courtesy of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
But now I’m getting off point. I didn’t sit down at the keyboard to ask whether or not the treasury department’s claims had any basis in fact, but to ask what the hell DOT is doing playing partisan ball and promoting Bush’s economic policies during an election year. And only to ask, mind you. The answers elude me, and unlike the average pundit, I prefer not to pretend that I possess secret knowledge, or keen insight. But I do have eyes to see, and a nose to smell. These sensory organs tell me one thing: something is rotten. Really, really rotten. It stinks, I tell you, like something in American government died, and the corpse has yet to be discovered. Could it be honesty? Integrity? Responsibility? The rule of law? Could it be that all of these ideals have met their maker and are now being slowly turned into crude oil? And is this the first time DOT has, wittingly or un, worked for the Bush campaign? Hardly. This from The Wall Street Journal, March 2004: “The Treasury tapped civil servants to calculate the cost of Sen. John Kerry's tax plan and then posted the analysis on the Treasury Web site. A federal law bars career government officials from working on political campaigns. The Treasury analysis doesn't mention Mr. Kerry by name. Rather it sketches out the potential cost of a tax plan that rolls back tax reductions for taxpayers with incomes above $200,000 -- the nub of the Democratic presidential candidate's plan. The result, the Treasury said in the analysis posted March 22, would be a tax increase of as much as $477 billion over 10 years on "hardworking individuals and married couples." The same day, the Republican National Committee issued a press release in which it unveiled what it called its "John Kerry $pendometer," and cited the same $477 billion figure as the cost of "raising taxes on the top income bracket."“ While Bush supporters in Treasury may have found a protective loophole in not attaching Kerry’s name to the plan, what played out here is pretty cut and dry. Civil servants were used to produce data that could be used by the Bush campaign against John Kerry. Illegal? Well, not if they get away with it, which they no doubt will. Outcomes aside, a complete disrespect for the intent of the law, if not the law itself has been shown. No, “shown” is not the right verb: “flaunted.” Yes, “flaunted will work nicely. But should this surprise us? No, we shouldn’t be. Outraged perhaps, but not surprised. For all their high-minded talk about the “rule of law” (the ass-aching G.O.P. refrain throughout the Clinton non-scandals) the Bushies and their ilk have never really shown much respect for the law. Consider Bush’s 2001 Christmas cards (oh yes, the Christmas-Card-Gate, haven’t you heard?). To prove he wasn’t just any old Washington insider the President didn’t want his holiday greetings postmarked from D.C.. He wanted them postmarked from his rural home in Crawford, TX., naturally. Sadly, the Crawford P.O., tiny thing that it is, couldn’t process such a vast mailing, so the operation was moved elsewhere. Still, the cards were postmarked “Crawford, TX.” Sure, that’s a “little white felony.” No harm, no foul, right? At the time my friends called me, “Chicken Little,” because, in back in those innocent days I saw something rather nefarious in Bush’s casual, if victimless disrespect for the law. And in these even darker days I still do. It was clear then that George W. Bush, a prince among Americans, born to fabulous wealth and far-reaching family power, didn’t think the law applied to him: a common misconception within the trustfunditarian set. As time has passed, my initial presumption based on this small (but still felonious) infraction, has been proven true time and time again. The sky IS falling Foxxy Loxey. Need more proof? Try this. From the LA Times, April 2004: “[In his book author Bob] Woodward said he found that the [Bush] administration quietly shifted money around to pay for early preparations for war in Iraq, without the approval of Congress. He said those preparations included building landing strips and addressing other military needs in Kuwait. The money, about $700 million, was taken in July 2002 from a budget item that had been approved for the war in Afghanistan. 'Some people are going to look at that document called the Constitution, which says that no money will be drawn from the Treasury unless appropriated by Congress,’ Woodward says in his CBS interview.” Could this be true? If so (and, unlike so many lefties, I’ve been reluctant to use this word) it’s time to draw the articles of impeachment. But could it? Really? National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice told Face the Nation that she had no knowledge of any illegal appropriation of funds. She then played the, “So what if it is true” card claiming that circumventing Congress was perfectly legal because Afghanistan and Iraq were both “within the entire region.” Asia? The Middle East? The same region? And this is our National Security Advisor speaking? Terrifying! But to play Rice at her own game of Risk, what if they were actually in the same region? Discounting all the Administration hoopla over Saddam’s non-existent WMD, and his non-existent ties to Al Qaeda, the invasion of Iraq was entirely unrelated to our mission in Afghanistan. As far as the American public, the U.N., and the greater world community was concerned, when America went into Afghanistan there was no impending war in Iraq: no Congressional go-ahead or UN resolutions. To secretly funnel congressionally-approved monies from one war to pay for another is yet another fine example of “Bush the brat” using the Constitution as his own personal toilet paper. But I’ve gone off topic again. Now I’m harping on what a criminal President George W. Bush is. And he is a criminal. He became one when he sent all those wonderful Christmas cards, and whether you give a rat’s rump about that or not, the fact--and the law--stands. All I ever really wanted to do was ask one simple question, “Why, in spite of all laws forbidding such activity, are taxpayers funding Bush’s campaign propaganda: Why is DOT peddling GOP talking points? Why does something smell dead in the heart of America? Why does something smell so very rotten?

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