January 31, 2003

A defense of Bush's policies

Perhaps Josh Steinman can tell me whether he was purposely lying or simply unaware of many key facts when he scribbled his latest diatribe against George W. Bush. As one analyzes his arguments one at a time, one finds that in his zeal to denigrate the President, accuracy was not a watchword for Steinman.

First, look at his implication that President Bush's social security policy will prevent retirees from receiving their checks. This is false because Bush's plan, which allows workers to invest a part of their savings into private accounts rather than giving it to the government, would not affect the benefit checks of current retirees or workers who will retire in the next few years. The truth is that this plan is wildly popular among workers and will likely pass into law. Democrats have been trying for ages to spook the elderly with these distortions regarding Republicans and social security. You would think that since this strategy has failed in two straight elections, they would try a new tactic, like coming up with their own idea of how social security is supposed to work when the number of retirees starts to outnumber the number of workers.

Steinman's claim that the unemployment rate, "has nearly doubled" makes no sense. Unemployment stands at 6 percent. When Bill Clinton left office it was at 4.2 percent, in October 2001, as a direct result of the terrorist attacks, the rate was at 5.4 percent. I don't see anything close to doubling in any of these numbers. It is unfortunate that so many people are out of work, but blame Osama bin Laden and the business cycle, not Bush. Steinman failed to mention that Bush has asked Congress to extend unemployment benefits and spend $3.6 billion on accounts for the unemployed that they could use for job training and child care so they can find new jobs.

Steinman's belief that the stock dividend tax cut will affect only the super-rich does not hold water either. Households making less than $100,000 a year earn almost 40 percent of dividend income. The $300 billion paid out is currently taxed twice, as dividends and as corporate earnings. This renders ineffective the investment the economy needs to get back on its feet.

As for the reductions in income tax rates Bush has proposed, those are merely accelerations of tax cuts already passed in the Tax Relief Act of 2001, which was passed by a Democrat-controlled Senate. Bush appears willing to refrain from accelerating the reduction of the top rate as a compromise, so charges of catering to the rich are invalid. As another aside, if Democrats have such a problem with tax relief they should have stuck to that belief and opposed the tax cuts when they had the opportunity. Instead they argue one way and vote the other. This perfidy will not fool Americans come 2004, just as it did not in 2002.

Steinman's distortions are most egregious when he discusses civil rights. He mentions "Pickering, Lott, Pickering again," insinuating that if Pickering is confirmed he would legalize lynchings, despite the fact that there is no evidence that Charles Pickering is a racist. Indeed, Pickering has taken several courageous stands in favor of civil rights and the cross-burning case has been distorted in the media. The truth is that federal prosecutors mistakenly allowed the ringleader of the incident off. This angered Pickering, who wanted to punish him. Instead, the prosecutors recommended seven years for a drunk whose role in the incident was minor. They dropped this recommendation and Pickering sentenced the man to 27 months. Nobody who reads the account can rationally claim that Pickering had anything but contempt for the behavior of the defendants.

Steinman also claims that Bush "restore[d] a long-forgotten tradition" when he had a wreath placed on the Confederate memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. This was yet another myth perpetrated by the Democrat-dominated media. Time magazine, the source of the lie, has since retracted its story and confirmed that the wreath was delivered continuously through the Clinton presidency, without anyone noticing, of course.

As for Trent Lott, it was Bush and his team who pushed him out of his leadership position after his unfortunate remarks. The Democratic Party has never taken similar steps to distance itself from race baiters like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who have made far more inappropriate racist and anti-Semitic statements in the past than anyone associated with the Republican Party.

Democrats like Steinman are trying to convince Americans that any white Southern conservative is a racist. That is itself a racist attitude and a false one. In any case, it's hard to see how Northern Democrats can claim to be enlightened on race when Chicago's neighborhoods and schools are so blatantly segregated. Anyone who doubts this should ride the CTA more.

On foreign policy, Steinman warps the truth further. There is no "war in Iraq" taking place, as he claims, and I fail to see how Bush could do anything about the Israel-Palestine conflict so long as Palestinian terrorists continue blowing up innocent Israelis.

Steinman also does not cite any evidence that children are taught "not to read, but to do well on reading tests." The federal government's share of school funding is too tiny to make up for the natural income disparities among school districts. It is too early to judge the President's testing regimen. If certain schools are failing, why not allow parents to use vouchers to send their kids to better schools?

Steinman patronizingly predicted that Bush would speak "eloquently yet simply" in his address. The true simpleton is Steinman, who did not bother to find out and tell the truth, opting to make vague and unsupported characterizations. The truth is that Buh was vindicated in the unprecedented 2002 midterm elections and will be reelected in 2004. Steinman does not speak for America.