Commentary

War obscures sorry state of union

George W. Bush’s recent speech on Capitol Hill was billed as “The State of the Union.” As everyone knows by now, it was more like “The State of the World According to Bush.” George W. Bush’s recent speech on Capitol Hill was billed as “The State of the Union.” As everyone knows by now, it was more like “The State of the World According to Bush.”

To learn what’s happening at home, take a look at a new report by the Democratic National Committee titled, “Bush’s Mid-term: The Real State of the Union,” which can be found on the web at www.democrats.org. References cited below are from that report.

Unemployment, which stood at 4.2 percent when Bush assumed office, has since increased by 43 percent, representing an additional 2.7 million Americans out of work. The official unemployment rate is now 6 percent, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As usual, the Black unemployment rate of 11.5 percent is nearly twice that.

Long-term employment, defined as lasting 27 weeks or more, increased by 186 percent under Bush.

Every president for the past six decades, both Democrats and Republicans, has seen jobs increase under his administration each month by 135,000. Under Bush, however, jobs have decreased an average of 73,000 each month, according to House Appropriations Committee statistics. The Bureau of Labor Statistics report that 2,365,000 jobs have been lost in the private sector since Bush has been in office.

And there was bad news for those who were able to avoid layoffs.

In 2001, real income declined for the first time in a decade. The real median family household income slipped from $43,162 to $42,228, the Census Bureau reports. That decrease was felt by everyone except those with annual income of more than $150,000.

The Bush administration says its tax cuts will cost $670 billion over the next 10 years. Most of that amount—$670 billion—will be in the form of tax reductions. However, when interest on the national debt and added interest fees are included, that number may jump to $925 billion, according to the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Another group, Citizens for Tax Justice, concludes that nearly two-thirds of Bush’s tax cuts would go to the top 10 percent of wage earners, defined as those earning more than $104,000 per year.

The elimination of federal taxes on dividends would mostly benefit the wealthy because they hold the largest share of stocks. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities observes, “Nearly two-thirds of the benefits of exempting corporate dividends from the individual income tax would flow to the top five percent of the population….”

Because most states tie their state income taxes to federal taxes, the National Governors Association reports that states are facing “the most dire fiscal situation since World War II.” As a result, they are cutting back on services and increasing college tuition. The fiscal year beginning July 1 will present states with deficits ranging from $71 billion to $87.8 billion. A provision to allocate $6 billion to states to help ease that pain was eliminated from the original plan.

The tax proposals were part of the $2.2 trillion budget Bush sent to Congress on Monday. If the budget is adopted, it would lead to an unprecedented deficit of $304 billion this year, topping his father’s previous high of $290 billion in 1992. The deficit is projected to reach $307 billion in 2004. Over the next five years, the deficits would total $1.08 trillion.

After declining for two consecutive years, the number of uninsured Americans rose in 2001 by 1.4 million, from 39.8 million to 41.2 million, including 8.5 million children, the Census Bureau reported.

Budget proposals submitted by the self-described “education president” represent the smallest overall increase in education in seven years and fails to adequately fund the “No Child Left Behind Act.”

Bush’s proposed budget provides only a 3.6 increase in funding to historically Black colleges and uni

February 10, 2003
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