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Impeach Bush

Hussein Welcomes U.N. Inspections, Decries U.S.

Senator Warns of Looming U.S. Budget Crisis

UN calls Bush a liar

Judge: Court Can Decide if Padilla Can Meet With Attorneys

World Poll--US Wants Iraqi Oil

The Budget Process is dead-CBO

Bush wants to give out $25,000 Bonuses

Budget Deficits for the next Decade--CBO analysis

US Can Kill American al-Qaida Agents *

Hussein Welcomes U.N. Inspections, Decries U.S.
Reuters.com
December 5, 2002
Compiled from wire reports

BAGHDAD, Iraq –– President Saddam Hussein urged the Iraqi people on Thursday to support the new U.N. arms inspections as a welcome opportunity to disprove American allegations that his government still harbors weapons of mass destruction.

In a holiday greeting to Iraqi leaders, Saddam said he agreed to the inspections, in which one of his own palaces was searched, "to keep our people out of harm's way" in the face of U.S. threats.

The Iraqi president's remarks contrasted sharply with a vice president's harsh words about the inspections late Wednesday. Taha Yassin Ramadan had accused the U.N. monitors of being U.S. and Israeli spies and of staging the presidential palace inspection as a provocation.

In Washington, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said President Bush has a "solid basis" to say that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction despite the inability of U.N. inspectors to find them so far.

"The president of the United States and the secretary of defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true, and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it," said Fleischer.

Fleischer said the United States has intelligence information proving Iraq has such weapons programs.

Saddam spoke at a gathering of the leadership of his Baath Party and the Iraqi military on the first morning of the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

He denounced Washington as an "unjust, arrogant, debased American tyranny." Then, turning to U.S. allegations that Iraq retains chemical and biological weapons, he said Iraqis wanted to disprove those claims after a four-year absence of U.N. weapons inspectors from their country.

"Some might claim that we didn't give them a proper chance to resist, with tangible evidence, the American allegations," Saddam said.

"We shall provide them with such a chance," he said, referring to the round of U.N. weapons inspections that began last week.

Washington threatens to go to war against Iraq if, in the U.S. view, it does not cooperate in the disarmament effort. Alluding to eventual war, Saddam declared: "We shall take the stand that befits our people, principles and mission. Victory will be yours."

Vice President Ramadan, in his remarks the previous evening to a visiting delegation of Egyptian professionals, said of the inspectors: "Their work is to spy to serve the CIA and Mossad (Israel's intelligence service)."

The language was reminiscent of clashes with inspectors in the 1990s, and Ramadan, known for his fiery statements, cited only years-old accounts of U.S. agents within the inspection agency of the 1990s. He offered no evidence of such connections in the new inspection agency.

He claimed to his all-Arab audience that the inspectors went to the palace hoping to provoke the Iraqis into refusing them entrance – something he said would be interpreted as a "material breach" of the U.N. resolution that mandated the inspections, and a cause for war.

The resolution includes "several land mines," Ramadan said, "and the aim is that one of them will go off."

Responding to Iraqi protests over the palace inspection, a U.N. official said the inspectors are taking the right approach – navigating between Iraqi complaints and U.S. pressure for more severe inspections. And, said inspections team leader Demetrius Perricos, "we are getting results."

Among other things, Perricos reported that on a five-hour inspection of a desert installation on Wednesday, his experts secured a dozen Iraqi artillery shells – previously known to be there – that were loaded with a powerful chemical weapon, the agent for mustard gas. It was the first report of such armaments traced and controlled in the week-old round of new inspections.

The inspections resumed last week after a four-year suspension, under a new U.N. Security Council resolution requiring Iraq to surrender any remaining weapons of mass destruction and shut down any programs to make them.

After a week of searches, the inspectors took a break Thursday and Friday, the first days of the three-day holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Iraq is predominantly Muslim.

A critical deadline approaches this weekend for the Baghdad government. On Saturday, it is expected to submit a declaration to the United Nations on any Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, as well as on nuclear, chemical and biological programs it says are peaceful.

The Bush administration alleges Baghdad retains some chemical and biological weapons– missed during 1990s inspections – and has not abandoned plans for nuclear weapons. Washington threatens to go to war against Iraq if, in the U.S. view, it does not cooperate in the disarmament effort.

The Iraqi government maintains it no longer holds such weapons, and will say so in the declaration.

The inspectors' new mandate toughens their powers to search anywhere, anytime in Iraq for signs of prohibited armaments. They took advantage of that authority on Tuesday to demand and receive quick entry to the opulent al-Sajoud palace in Baghdad, one of dozens of palaces built by Saddam during his 23-year rule.

The team's 1½-hour inspection was a brief but symbolic show of U.N. muscle.

"We consider the entry of the presidential sites as unjustified and really unnecessary," said Gen. Hossam Mohammed Amin, chief Iraqi liaison to the inspectors. Amin added, however, that Iraq would not try to block U.N. visits to other palaces.

Disputes over inspections of presidential palaces contributed to the tension that developed between U.N. inspectors and the Iraqi government in the 1990s. Personal negotiations between Saddam and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan produced an agreement whereby inspectors had to supply notice of such inspections and accept diplomatic escorts.

Perricos, meeting with reporters Wednesday, noted that the new Security Council resolution overrides such agreements.

Bush had said on Tuesday that "the signs are not encouraging" the Iraqis will cooperate with the disarmament effort, even though the inspectors have reported nothing but Iraqi cooperation thus far.

The U.N. teams are picking up where their predecessors left off in 1998, when the monitoring regime collapsed amid disputes over access and U.S. spying from within the U.N. operation.

If Iraq is eventually found to have cooperated fully with the inspectors, U.N. resolutions call for the Security Council to consider lifting economic sanctions imposed on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Commentary:
The last sentence of the article must make the blood run cold in Bush and his cronies. If Iraq doesn't have WMD, then what? Bush and Blair would be finished as world leaders and both the US and Britain would suffer a humiliating defeat. I still find it odd that Bush didn't give the UN inspectors the exact site location of his weapons (one would assume he knows this information..or was is all a lie? a guess? or a fib?).


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Senator Warns of Looming U.S. Budget Crisis
Reuters.com
December 4, 2002
By Andrew Clark

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government could face deficits of almost $3 trillion over the next 10 years unless Congress faces up to reforming its budget process, a Republican senator said on Wednesday, citing an analysis by congressional budget forecasters.

The Congressional Budget Office analysis, requested by Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, projects deficits of $2.9 trillion through 2012 if government spending continues to increase at the same rate it has in the last several years and recent tax cuts, currently set to expire after 10 years, are extended.

If Social Security funds are excluded, the cumulative deficit over the next decade rises to $5.4 trillion.

"Too many people around here are fooling themselves that we don't have a federal budget crisis," Voinovich told a news conference. "The budget accounting the federal government uses is so misleading it would make an Enron accountant blush."

In its latest official economic outlook in August, the budget office forecast the government would record a cumulative surplus of just over $1 trillion between 2003 and 2012.

But that outlook was required to assume federal spending increases would be held to the rate of inflation, even though they have generally far exceeded it in the past.

It also had to be based on current law, which calls for the eventual expiry of last year's $1.35 trillion tax cuts. But many Republicans, who now control Congress and the White House, say the cuts should be made permanent to spur the economy.

AGAINST THE WIND

"It's certainly rational to assume that that sunset is not going to happen," said Bob Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a budget watchdog group. "The wind direction seems to be blowing against fiscal discipline right now."

The estimates also do not include the possible costs of a war with Iraq or of major legislative efforts -- such as adding a prescription drug benefit to Medicare -- likely to be considered in the next few years, Bixby noted.

Congress' annual budget process has been in particular disarray this year, with the closely-divided Senate failing -- for the first time since the process was put in place in 1974 -- to pass a formal spending blueprint at all.

A number of major budget rules, credited with helping limit federal deficits over the last decade, were also allowed to expire in 2002 -- leaving fewer options to restrain spending.

Voinovich said he would try to reinstitute the rules next year and take other steps to overhaul the budget process, but conceded Congress was unlikely to change its ways without a groundswell of public concern over the issue.

"It's got to come from outside. It's not going to come from inside," he said. "Rules are not worth the paper they are printed on if there is no political will to abide by them."

Commentary:
Tell me something, did your local paper carry another Iraq headline today(with a bunch of nonsense from Bush) or did it carry this analysis from CBO in huge print? The era of real news died a long time ago and it's been replaced with the era of propaganda.

If were fed this article daily for about a week (yes, Americans need to be feed the truth these days), every single person would turn against Bush and his party. That's why the press will bury this story and why you didn't read it on front page of your paper.


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UN calls Bush a liar
Original Title: U.N. Chief Challenges Bush's Iraq Assessment
Washington Post
By Colum Lynch and Mike Allen
December 4, 2002

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 3 -- U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan today challenged the Bush administration's downbeat assessment of weapons inspections underway in Iraq, saying that Iraqi "cooperation seems to be good" following the inspectors' first week of work.

Annan said it is too early to make a conclusive judgment regarding Iraq's commitment to disarm, but added he was pleased the inspectors have had no trouble gaining access to all the sites they targeted, including one of eight presidential palace compounds they visited today. He urged the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to continue to cooperate with the inspection teams.

"It's only been a week and obviously the cooperation seems to be good, but this is not a one-week wonder," Annan said. "They have to sustain the cooperation and the effort and perform."

The secretary general's comments posed a stark contrast to statements by President Bush and other senior U.S. officials, who have offered a much more pessimistic assessment of the inspections so far. They pointed to a growing tug of war between the Bush administration and the United Nations over how to assess Iraqi compliance with U.N. disarmament demands in the run-up to this weekend's deadline for an Iraqi declaration on its weapons and missile development programs.

In a sign of the continuing divisions within the administration over Iraq policy, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell painted a far different picture. Speaking to reporters on a flight to Bogota, Colombia, Powell said the inspections "are off to a pretty good start," though he cautioned that much of the work so far has involved collecting baseline data and checking equipment.

Bush expressed mounting skepticism today about the likelihood that the inspections would stave off U.S. military action against Iraq, twice telling audiences in Louisiana that he will not wait out a prolonged game of "hide and seek."

Bush and other U.S. officials began a campaign on Monday to deflect attention from the daily comings and goings of the inspectors from sites in Iraq and toward what the administration says is the fundamental issue: Iraq's compliance with demands that it give up any chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons programs, and long-range missile systems.

"The issue is not the inspectors," Bush said today in Shreveport, La. "The issue is whether or not Mr. Saddam Hussein will disarm like he said he would. We're not interested in hide and seek in Iraq. The fundamental question is . . . will he disarm? The choice is his. And if he does not disarm, the United States of America will lead a coalition and disarm him in the name of peace."

A senior administration official said that first, Bush may push for a more aggressive approach to inspections, possibly including such enhancements as a much larger force, simultaneous inspections of several sites, and multiple inspections each day.

White House officials dismissed Annan's more optimistic assessment of Iraqi cooperation. "It's too soon to say with any certainty, from the president's point of view," spokesman Ari Fleischer said. "But the overall picture, the president is not encouraged."

Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Mohammed Douri, continued to maintain that Iraq has destroyed all its weapons of mass destruction and that it has nothing to hide. "We declared everything and destroyed everything, so we have nothing," he said.

"We are cooperating with UNMOVIC in a good way." Douri added, referring to the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, which is conducting the inspections along with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In Baghdad, a senior Iraqi official told reporters that Iraq would hand over the declaration of its biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs on Saturday -- a day ahead of the Dec. 8 deadline set out in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441, adopted unanimously by the 15-member body on Nov. 8.

Bush made it clear that he does not believe the statements by Hussein and other Iraqi officials that they are not hiding any weapons. "He says he won't have weapons of mass destruction; he's got them," Bush said in Shreveport. Later in New Orleans, Bush added, "He's a man who has got terrorist ties, a man who helps train terrorists. He's a threat and he's a danger."

On Monday, the inspectors searched a Baghdad missile design plant that made guidance and control systems for Scud missiles that Iraq used during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The inspectors wanted to ensure that the installation was not involved in producing missiles capable of ranges longer than 93 miles, which are banned under earlier U.N. resolutions.

During their six-hour search, however, the inspectors discovered that several monitoring cameras and some of the equipment on which they had placed identification tags no longer were at the site, now called the Karama Co.

Iraq's Foreign Ministry said today that some of the cameras and other equipment were destroyed when the United States bombed the site in 1998. The ministry statement said the other equipment sought by the inspectors had been moved to the offices of Iraq's National Monitoring Directorate, a government agency that acts as a liaison to the inspectors.

The ministry said it had informed the U.N. inspections commission of the movement of the equipment in a meeting in Vienna in October, when Iraqi officials handed over large documents about the country's weapons-making equipment.

"The majority of the cameras were destroyed during the aggression and some parts of the monitoring system that weren't destroyed were transferred to the National Monitoring Directorate center for protection," the statement said. "They exist there now."

U.N. officials said today they did not believe the movement was a cause for immediate concern, noting that at a veterinary medicine plant visited last week, the inspectors were able to trace a fermentation unit at first thought to be missing.

"If it were to be moved for some illicit purpose, then of course it would be more serious," Hans Blix, the chief U.N. weapons inspector, told reporters in New York. "But in the first case there was a fermenter which had been moved, and they showed where it was. And in other cases I hope that there are good explanations, but this has to be found out."

The Bush administration, meanwhile, sought to postpone a vote for the second time in nine days on a resolution that would extend Iraq's authority to export oil for the next six months. John D. Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, asked the Security Council for a two-week delay in order to persuade council members to add about 40 items to a list of items that would require U.N. approval before they could be imported by Iraq.

Iraq is allowed to sell oil under U.N. supervision to buy food and medicine, and to rebuild the country's battered infrastructure. The Security Council typically renews the mandate for the oil-for-food program every six months, but the United States has insisted that the council first place new restrictions on the import of such items as atropine, which is used to treat medical conditions but can also be used as an antidote for nerve agents.

The latest dispute in the Security Council is expected to reopen a recently settled battle over what Iraq is allowed to import. Following several months of acrimonious negotiations, the council agreed in May to approve a 300-page list of items that required Security Council approval. But with the prospect of war in Iraq, the Pentagon is concerned that Iraq will import medicines and products that can be used to inoculate Iraqi soldiers from chemical agents or to interfere with U.S. communications equipment.

Correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran in Baghdad and staff writer Glenn Kessler, in Bogota, contributed to this report. Allen reported from Shreveport, La.

Commentary:
I can almost hear it---"Daddy, can I have a war just like you? Can I, can I?" If Bush is absolutely sure Iraq has weapons of mass destruction he would have given that information to UN inspectors by now and they'd have found the weapons. Bush doesn't have proof, we all know that and now the UN is calling Bush a liar. Geez, ya think?


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Judge: Court Can Decide if Padilla Can Meet With Attorneys *
An Impeachable Offense
By Larry Neumeister
Washington Post/AP
Wednesday, December 4, 2002

NEW YORK –– A federal court has the authority to decide whether a former Chicago gang member accused of plotting with terrorists to detonate a radioactive "dirty" bomb was properly detained as an enemy combatant, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Until he makes that decision, U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey said, Jose Padilla may meet with his lawyers. Padilla, a U.S. citizen, had been barred from meeting with attorneys since he was declared an enemy combatant in June.

The ruling was a blow to the government, which had argued that Padilla, a U.S. citizen, had no right to challenge its actions in court because of the enemy combatant status.

However, the judge did agree that the government has the power to detain unlawful combatants.

President Bush's spokesman, Ari Fleischer, said White House lawyers were studying the voluminous ruling to determine the administration's position.

"I do note the court did uphold the president's constitutional authority to direct the military to detain unlawful enemy combatants in order to protect the American people in this war on terrorism," Fleischer said.

The government has maintained that Padilla has no rights as an enemy combatant. It also said he could use contact with his lawyers to unwittingly pass messages to coconspirators, but Mukasey said rules could be crafted to avoid that possibility.

According to the government, Padilla twice met with senior al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan in March and discussed a plot to detonate a radiological weapon in the United States.

He was arrested May 8 at Chicago's O'Hare airport on a material witness warrant issued by a grand jury. He has been held in a Navy brig since he was declared an enemy combatant in June. The government says that declaration allows it to hold him without formal criminal charges.

Padilla's lawyers, Donna Newman and Andrew Patel, say he is being held illegally. Newman said Wednesday she was pleased with Mukasey's ruling.

"It is a significant decision. It's certainly a thorough decision," the defense lawyer said. "I need to review it."

Although the opinion opened a legal window for lawyers to fight on Padilla's behalf, the judge wrote supportively of the government's powers.

"The president ... has both constitutional and statutory authority to exercise the powers of commander in chief, including the power to detain unlawful combatants, and it matters not that Padilla is a United States citizen captured on United States soil," Mukasey wrote.

He said he would later resolve the issue of whether Padilla was lawfully detained and whether President Bush has evidence to support his finding that Padilla was an enemy combatant.

Commentary:
The court is simply wrong. The Constitution doesn't grant the president additional powers during times of war. The only power he has is commander in chief of the armed forces. Period. I'm not sure why judges feel a need to lie about what the Constitution really says. Btw, no "statutory authority" (law) can supersede the Constitution. The only way to change the Constitution is by amendment, not laws.


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World Poll--US Wants Iraqi Oil
Orginal Title:Poll Finds World Doubts U.S. Motives in Iraq
Washington Post
December 4, 2002
By Richard Morin

Suspicion about U.S. motives in Iraq and the broadly held perception that America ignores the interests of other nations in foreign policy disputes has tarnished the image of the United States around the world, according to a survey of public attitudes in 44 countries by The Pew Research Center for The People & The Press.

The poll also found broad support outside the Muslim world for American-led efforts to combat terrorism but an "an equally strong global consensus that the United States disregards the views of others in carrying out its foreign policy," wrote Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center, who headed the Global Attitudes Project.

A separate follow-up survey conducted last month in the United States and in five allied nations revealed equally deep and conflicting views on Iraq. A majority of those interviewed in Great Britain, France, Germany and Russia agreed that Saddam Hussein represented a threat to stability in the Middle East and a danger to world peace.

But this consensus quickly collapses on other critical issues currently at play in the evolving confrontation with Iraq. Overwhelming majorities in France, Germany and Russia oppose the use of military force to end Saddam's rule. Even in Great Britain, America's staunchest ally on Iraq, opinion is sharply divided: fewer than half--47 percent--favor using force to oust Hussein while an equal proportion disagree.

And in Turkey, eight in 10 opposed allowing the U.S. and its allies to use bases in their country to launch strikes against Iraq. On Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis gave the United States conditional approval to bomb Iraq from bases in Turkey but only if United Nations inspections fail.

There is even sharp disagreement among these key U.S. allies whether Iraq or the Middle East poses the greater domestic danger. In no country except the United States was Hussein's continued rule seen by a majority as "the greater international threat to our country."

This uneasiness over Iraq arises, in large part, from deep suspicions of U.S. motives for using military force to remove Hussein, the survey found.

When asked whether the United States was more interested in achieving stability in the region or more interested in controlling Iraqi oil reserves, majorities in Russia (76 percent), France (75 percent), and Germany (54 percent) said "the U.S. wants to control Iraqi oil." In Great Britain, the public was evenly divided on the question.

A total of 38,263 randomly adults in 44 countries were interviewed for the Global Attitudes survey, which was translated into 63 languages. Sample sizes in individual countries ranged from 500 in the Czech Republic to 3,000 in China. Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright chaired the committee that oversaw the project. Most interviews were conducted face-to-face in the respondent's home. In some countries, interviewing was restricted to just a few major cities. In Egypt, for example, all of the interviews were conducted in Cairo.

Another 6,056 adults were interviewed in the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russian and Turkey for the separate Iraq survey.

While most nations have a favorable view of America and Americans, the survey also found that "discontent with the United States has grown around the world over the past two years," Kohut wrote. "Images of the U.S. have been tarnished in all types of nations: among longtime NATO allies, in developing countries, in Eastern Europe and, most dramatically, in Muslim societies."

At the same time, U.S. technology and popular culture were widely admired, with substantial majorities in most non-Muslim countries embracing American music, movies and television.

According to the poll, the United States is rated favorably by majorities in 35 of the 42 countries where government officials allowed the question to be asked. But, cautioned Kohut, "the U.S. is viewed only somewhat favorably in virtually all of these countries. And negative opinions of this country have increased in most of the nations where trend benchmarks are available."

The image of the United States has taken a particular beating in predominantly Muslim countries as well as those near Afghanistan and Iraq, the poll found. Three in four residents of Jordan, the fourth largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, have a negative image of the United States. In Pakistan and Egypt, seven in 10 expressed an unfavorable view.

"In Jordan, Pakistan and Egypt, the intensity of this dislike is strong--more than 50 percent in each country have a very unfavorable view," Kohut and his research team reported.

Even more troublesome, Kohut said, were the rapidly eroding views of the United States expressed by residents of Turkey, a NATO ally that is seeking entrance into the European Union.

Two years ago, a majority of residents had a favorable view of the United States; today, three in 10 do. At the same time, more than half--55 percent now said they had a negative view of the United States and more than four in 10 felt that way strongly.

Kohut said the one notable exception to this rising tide of anti-Americanism: "Our new friend and ally, Uzbekistan," a major beneficiary of U.S. assistance during and after the war in Afghanistan. Nearly nine in 10--85 percent--had a favorable view of the United States.

The wide-ranging survey also found that President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin stand "head and shoulders above" other world leaders in terms of their personal popularity. Seven in 10 Americans said Bush was having a "good influence" on their country while more than eight in 10 said Putin was having a similarly positive impact on Russia.

But the survey also found broad dissatisfaction with the way things are going; citizens "in nearly every country in every region surveyed say they are unhappy with the state of their nation," Kohut wrote. Those views, he said, reflected broad discontent with the current state of the national economy.

In only three of the 44 countries surveyed did a majority of residents say they were generally satisfied with the state of their country: Canada (56 percent), Uzbekistan, (69 percent) and Vietnam (69 percent). In the United States, barely four in 10--41 percent--expressed satisfaction.

"As 2002 draws to a close, the world is not a happy place," Kohut wrote. "At a time when trade and technology have linked the world more closely together than ever before, almost all national publics view the fortunes of the world as drifting downward. A smaller world, our surveys indicate, is not a happier one."

Associate editor Karen DeYoung contributed to this report

Commentary:
So the world doesn't trust us but they still favor Bush's war on terror. Could it be that with all but two nations polled showing they're not satisfied with their country that war talk by their leaders (too) is an attempt to distract them from what's really going on? I can't help but note that Israel always heats up when their economy is in trouble. A distraction or a real war? Obviously many world leaders are learning the benefits of using "Wag the Dog" as a means of distract their people from the sour economy.


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The Budget Process is dead-CBO
cbo.gov
by Dan L. Crippen- of CBO

"Observations on the Current State of the Federal Budget Process"

Good afternoon. I am going to start by saying that I never say anything very profound, and I'm not likely to break that record today. I say that because what I'm about to say is probably not very surprising, but, nonetheless, I think it needs to be said.

Namely, from where I sit, at least, the Congressional budget process is dead. One might say, "Long live the budget process!" But it is dead for all practical purposes at the moment. And before I explain why I think that is the case and some of the implications, I want to regale you or bore you with a few highlights and "low lights" of the history of the budget process as we have known it in the recent past.

I understand that a number of you are getting training credits for this, so you will like the history lesson that you are getting here, and you can say that it was a beautiful part of your course work.

As most of you know, the Congressional budget process of the modern era started with the Nixon impoundments. For those of you who do not know, President Nixon chose not to spend certain appropriations. Although he did not have a line-item veto, the apportionment power, which the executive branch still has, was used to essentially not spend some funds--effecting an impoundment. The Congress, not surprisingly, was not particularly pleased with that action so, among other things, it eventually fashioned and passed the Budget and Impoundment Control Act, which, in his closing days and weakened position, Nixon signed.

So the modern budget process was created, not as an afterthought but certainly as an ancillary thought to the driving force of the legislation, which was to gather back to the Congress some of the budgetary power that the President had sought to claim as his own.

The Budget Act, which created the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as well, provided for the Congress to have a much better formulation of the budget in an overarching sense than it had probably ever had. You are all familiar with 13 appropriation bills' being passed and adding up the budget total at the end of the year. Not much consideration was given, however, to exactly what the effect of individual pieces of legislation was going to be on the budget in any given year. But the Budget Act made provision for a number of legislative vehicles, for lack of a better term, that were to be employed to help the Congress be more responsible in certain areas.

The law said that there should be a first budget resolution early in the year, which would lay out the plan for the Congress for the year. There was to be a second resolution a little later in the year to accommodate significant changes in economic outlook, fiscal needs, and the like. And at the end of the year, if necessary, there was to be a reconciliation bill that would conform the plan with what was at that point actuality or reality. And that was how the process was supposed to go. It almost never went that way. There were a number of years in which there were a first budget resolution and a second and even a year in which there was a reconciliation bill--roughly what the framers of the law had in mind.

But starting in 1981, the Budget Act was basically turned on its head. Specifically, there was a reconciliation bill, but it followed shortly after the first budget resolution, which not long thereafter became the second budget resolution as well. And in 1981, reconciliation was used to implement a whole range of policies, which affected taxes, entitlements, the jurisdiction of authorizing committees, and the appropriation process in very broad ways.

The first reconciliation bill, which was mostly aimed at spending, if you will, had 59 subconferences between the House and Senate. Resolving the differences between the two took almost a month even though the bills were actually quite similar when they passed in both Houses. It was later that year that the equivalent of a second reconciliation bill (although we did not call it that) implemented much of the tax policy of the Reagan Administration, plus a lot of tax policy added by the Congress. Then, ultimately, there was another budget resolution.

But the whole process had changed dramatically--from an accounting system, a measure of responsibility, a guide for spending to one of actually implementing a great deal of policy. And that really remained the way the process worked for a number of years. It was added to, subtracted from, multiplied, and changed. We had Gramm-Rudman-Hollings intervening and adding a number of barnacles or enhancements, depending upon your view.

As the budget process ran the show, many of the normal actors were shunted aside. That is to say, the authorizing committees thought that their power was being usurped by the budget committees' process. The appropriators certainly thought that their unique powers were being thwarted or constrained, which of course in both cases was part of the idea but, nonetheless, not an idea that they were comfortable with.

As a result of that, I would suggest, there were other processes that the Congress used to pursue with vigor that were diminished. A prime example is oversight. The authorizing committees in the past, in addition to the appropriation committees, mainly were charged with oversight. They would call up cabinet secretaries or administrators and ask them pointed questions about the programs they were running and how they were doing it.

That happens almost not at all anymore. In part, I would suggest, it is because of how the budget process discouraged the authorizing committees. But that is one of the ancillary effects of how the budget process evolved. Along the way, the budget process made a lot of enemies. It made enemies of the authorizers, the appropriators, and sometimes the leadership. Meanwhile, the original proponents went away. Too many of them retired and died, and those few who were left to support the process were worn down.

So we get to the modern-day history and why I think that it is easy to say the process is dead. As most of you are aware, this was the first year since 1975 that the Senate has not passed a budget resolution. There have been other occasions when we did not have a conference report, when we did not have agreement between the Houses, but never a time when the Senate did not pass a resolution.

We have very few enforcement tools left, among the more modern mechanisms at least: pay-as-you-go and discretionary caps on appropriations. Those were the result of the 1997 budget agreement, and they expired at the end of September last year. The Senate has extended them until April, as I recall, for a few months, but they are not likely, at least at the moment, to be very effective. So we had no budget plan this year, and we have no enforcement mechanisms.

You can see the result of that situation, I would suggest, at least in part, in the failure to pass appropriation bills. Certainly, it reflects a difference in policy. Yes, it is a political argument. Yes, the question is how many votes you have on the House or Senate floor. But without at least the cover, the backdrop, the support from a budget resolution and a budget agreed to by the Congress, it is very difficult to forward any particular appropriation bill contrary to what the President wants, which leads me to the largest implication, I think, of where we find ourselves today. And that is that much of the budgetary power that was implemented in part by the Congress in the wake of Nixon impoundment and the utilization of this budget process, much of that power has evolved back to the President. Now, the President's budget is the only game in town. Now, the President's veto is the only power in town when it comes to budgetary decisions. So the Congress has given up, I think, a large measure of what it had grabbed back from President Nixon. That, coupled with the fact that there is very little oversight going on in the authorizing committees, I think, makes it very easy for the President to economically and actually impose his will on the Congress in these matters.

Now, what would one do about that? I am not sure. There are probably ways to resurrect the current process. We were discussing this yesterday at CBO, and someone likened the process to a zombie. And someone else said well, maybe, just an organ transplant patient. Given the, shall we say, sarcastic wits that survive at CBO, the debate quickly became whether the organ in need was a brain or a heart. Then there was some discussion about the viability of reviving the patient. That is not clear. Your guess is probably as good or better than mine. I know that the incoming chairman of the Budget Committee of the Senate, Senator Nickles, says that he wants to try to resurrect the process. He is talking about having reconciliation; he is talking about budget resolutions--things that we used to have. However, I think that he is going to have a tough time. I think it will be a number of years before the Congress again asserts itself in a systematic way and reasserts its own power in the budget process over that of the President.

To what end is not clear. How soon, how fast, and how easy that will be are also not clear. But I think what is clear is that without this kind of process (something that forces the Congress to agree on some broad outlines on what it wants to do for a spending plan), without its arguments and its votes against a President, the Congress is going to be dominated by any President--until the Congress learns again how to grab back some of that budgetary power.

This is not new. In some ways, the history of the budget process, to the extent that we have had one, goes well beyond 1972 or 1975, when I started. The process, of course, goes back to the beginnings of the Congress with the constitutional requirement that the Congress initiate spending and revenue bills, but there has certainly been more back-and-forth between the executive branch and the Congress in this last century than in the first. Nonetheless, the Presidential power for budgeting has waxed and waned. One might say that the power belonged exclusively to the Congress in the early days. It was the only entity that actually had bills and added them up. Then, in the early 1900s, it may have unfortunately required the executive branch to develop an executive budget and send it to the Hill. After that, budgetary power tended to evolve toward the executive branch. So this situation is not new. For the Congress, the power has waxed and waned in some ways, particularly in the last century. But I do think that with the current budgetary climate and particularly with the impending retirement of my generation, it is truly an unfortunate time for the Congress to be without the ability to fashion a budget.

I say that because, as many of you have heard me say before, the outlook for the near term, that is, the next 20 or 30 years, is not particularly appealing if you are one of my kids. The programs for the elderly will go from currently spending about 7 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) to somewhere in the neighborhood of 16 percent or 17 percent of GDP. That is about, as most of you know, what we spend on all federal programs now.

We have collected, on average, 18 percent of GDP in federal revenue since World War II. So, under current law, we will be spending most of that--at least--on programs for the elderly, which will take us to the largest peacetime fiscal shift in history. We will either have to dramatically raise taxes, cut spending on these programs, cut spending on other programs, or borrow from our kids. It is not clear that we can borrow that much for very long. If we were to borrow something like 10 percent of GDP, which in today's terms would be roughly a trillion dollars a year--that is probably not sustainable for very long.

So we are coming to a large change in fiscal policy, as I said, the largest peacetime change this country has ever seen. And to have a Congress without the tools to respond both to the executive branch and to develop its own plans and its own policies is not a situation that we would say is ideal. And, frankly, I do not think we have much time to facilitate the fiscal future and the economy for our children. As I said, my generation begins to retire in earnest in 2010, and by 2030, the number of folks in Medicare and Social Security will have doubled from 39 million to roughly 80 million. Meanwhile, we will have added very few workers.

So we have to accommodate this future somehow. That is very clear. What is not clear is how the Congress will respond and how it can respond without a more wholesome, complete budget process. With that, I think I will quit and entertain questions to find out what is on your mind.

Commentary:
A couple observations. First, the author fails to mention the Supreme Court ruled Nixon's impounding was unconstitutional so the Congress had no choice but to stop him. Second, the author correctly states the budget process died in 1981 when Reagan proposed his tax cut, offered no way to pay for it, while at the same time demanding Congress spend more money on the military (and other programs). The end result of the Reagan years was the largest accumulation of debt in US history--Reagan created more debt than all previous presidents combined.

The congress is aware the future looks very, very bleak. So what does this president and the republican party do---well, simple, they do Reaganomics all over again. Reagan mastered the art of borrowing money and giving it away, creating massive debt in the process and then blaming others for what he did. Bush learned from the master.

The budget process being controlled by the president isn't necessarily a bad thing (as the author suggests), when that president is responsible. However, when republicans control the office, their actions destroy fiscal sanity and destroy our future. When will Americans learn? IMO, never. It's already to late to undo the damage caused by Reagan or the two Bush's. America's future has never looked so bleak. One can see why Bush uses his media campaign of war to distract us from what he's doing.


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Bush wants to give out $25,000 Bonuses
An Impeachable Offense
Reuters.com
December 4, 2002

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The White House is spearheading a policy to make political appointees eligible for cash bonuses, and some U.S. agencies already have handed out awards of several thousand dollars each, The New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing Bush administration officials.

The policy shift means appointees could receive annual cash bonuses of up to $10,000 with the approval of Cabinet-level officials and agency chiefs, or more than $25,000 with the approval of the White House, the newspaper said.

The practice, which was dropped during President Bill Clinton's administration because of questionable practices during the previous Bush administration, aims to put appointees on equal footing with civil servants who routinely earn bonuses, the Times said in its online edition.

White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card instituted the policy shift earlier this year, but it was never disclosed to the public, the Times said.

According to a March 29 memo, Card told Cabinet secretaries and agency chiefs that he wanted to reward "substantial work achievements that go well beyond the performance of routine duties," the Times reported.

Card added in the memo that "political employees should be judged and rewarded in the same manner as career employees," according to the newspaper report.

The newspaper also cites an Oct. 8 Justice Department memo that says that the awards "will be limited to truly outstanding performance that contributes directly to achieving the president's and the attorney general's national goals and objectives."

Bush aides say the policy shift reflects the administration's emphasis on rewarding excellence and productivity in all employees, but some career officials fear civil servants will have to compete with well-connected appointees for bonus money, the Times said.

Commentary:
Only one problem. The Congress and only the Congress can appropriate money and it has set the wage scale of all federal workers. Bonuses are not part of that wage scale. Since Bush thinks he has the sole power to rewrite the laws creating wages his actions are impeachable. If Bush thinks someone should get paid more, there is a process, it's called making new law. Bush thinks he can do anything. And who's left to stop him? The media, the congress, the courts? Not a chance.


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Budget Deficits for the next Decade--CBO analysis
Reuters.com
December 3, 2002

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A congressional budget analysis predicts the federal government could have a nearly $900 billion budget deficit in 10 years instead of returning to a surplus, a Republican senator said on Tuesday.

The Congressional Budget Office analysis requested by Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio predicted that the government would have a $866 billion deficit by 2012, not including Social Security funds, if government spending increases by the average rate of the last several years and tax cuts set to expire after 10 years were extended, Voinovich's spokesman said.

oinovich is to release the report at a news conference on Wednesday.

In its last budget outlook in August, the budget office said the government should have a $185 billion surplus in 2012, not counting Social Security funds, after posting deficits for most of the decade.

That outlook assumed that federal spending increases would be held to the inflation rate. It also was based on current law, which called for the expiration after 10 years of the $1.35 trillion tax cuts passed in 2001.

But average federal spending rate increases have far outpaced recent modest inflation rates, and many Republicans who control the White House and Congress are calling for making the tax cuts permanent as a way to spur the economy.

Voinovich's spokesman said the budget office report gives a more realistic picture than the CBO can present in its regular budget outlook, which must be based on current law and on spending tracking inflation.

"Fixing the situation will require serious reforms to the way the federal budget is prepared," a statement from Voinovich's office said, adding that the senator "will unveil a blueprint for such reforms."

Commentary:
A $900 billion deficit in one year. Now that's real money. So what is Bush and the media talking about. More tax cuts, more military spending and more, more, more. Bush is the biggest spending president since Reagan. America has doomed itself by electing fools to lead us.


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US Can Kill American al-Qaida Agents *
An Impeachable Offense
yahoonews/ap
Dec 3, 2:09
By JOHN J. LUMPKIN

WASHINGTON (AP) - American citizens working for al-Qaida overseas can legally be targeted and killed by the CIA (news - web sites) under President Bush (news - web sites)'s rules for the war on terrorism, U.S. officials say.

The authority to kill U.S. citizens is granted under a secret finding signed by the president after the Sept. 11 attacks that directs the CIA to covertly attack al-Qaida anywhere in the world. The authority makes no exception for Americans, so permission to strike them is understood rather than specifically described, officials said.

These officials said the authority will be used only when other options are unavailable. Military-like strikes will take place only when law enforcement and internal security efforts by allied foreign countries fail, the officials said.

Capturing and questioning al-Qaida operatives is preferable, even more so if an operative is a U.S. citizen, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Any decision to strike an American will be made at the highest levels, perhaps by the president.

U.S. officials say few Americans are working with al-Qaida but they have no specific estimates.

The CIA already has killed one American under this authority, although U.S. officials maintain he wasn't the target.

On Nov. 3, a CIA-operated Predator drone fired a missile that destroyed a carload of suspected al-Qaida operatives in Yemen. The target of the attack, a Yemeni named Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, was the top al-Qaida operative in that country. Efforts by Yemeni authorities to detain him had previously failed.

But the CIA didn't know a U.S. citizen, Yemeni-American Kamal Derwish, was in the car. He died, along with al-Harethi and four other Yemenis.

The Bush administration said the killing of an American in this fashion was legal.

"I can assure you that no constitutional questions are raised here. There are authorities that the president can give to officials," said Condoleezza Rice Bush's national security adviser, after the attack. "He's well within the balance of accepted practice and the letter of his constitutional authority."

American authorities have alleged that Derwish was the leader of an al-Qaida cell in suburban Buffalo, N.Y. Most of the alleged members of the cell were arrested and charged with supporting terrorists, but Derwish was not accused of any crime in American courts.

Family members in Buffalo say they have yet to be contacted by the U.S. government about Derwish's death, which they learned about through media reports.

Mohamed Albanna, vice president of the American Muslim Council's Buffalo chapter, urged federal authorities to confirm the death.

"It's just a matter of common respect for the family here. After all, they are U.S. citizens." He added that Derwish "has not been tried and has not been found guilty, so, in that sense, he's still an innocent American who was killed. That's what the law states."

The Bush administration sees it differently. In killing him, the administration defined Derwish as an enemy combatant, the equivalent of a U.S. citizen who fights with the enemy on a battlefield, officials said. Under this legal definition, experts say, his constitutional rights are nullified and he can be killed outright.

Sen. Richard Shelby R-Ala., vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, supported this policy. "A U.S. citizen terrorist will kill you just like somebody from another country."

The government has done little publicly to justify Derwish's killing. Officials have privately suggested his association with al-Harethi is reason enough.

Other Americans have been similarly classed since Sept. 11, including Jose Padilla, accused of plotting to use a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the United States, and Yaser Esam Hamdi, who was found fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan (news - web sites). Both are in military custody.

However, a third American, John Walker Lindh, was turned over to the civilian courts after being found serving as a foot soldier with the Taliban. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to supplying services to the Taliban and carrying explosives in commission of a felony.

While officials believe only a small number of U.S. citizens went through Osama bin Laden camps, Americans have been associated with all levels of al-Qaida.

This includes high-level operative Wadih El Hage, a Lebanese-American who was convicted in connection with the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. A former U.S. Army soldier, Ali Mohamed, worked as a trainer and target scout for bin Laden before he was captured and convicted.

Previously, the government's authority to kill a citizen outside of the judicial process has been generally restricted to when the American is directly threatening the lives of other Americans or their allies.

Earlier presidential authorizations of lethal covert action, in Latin America and elsewhere, have also tacitly allowed the killing of Americans fighting with the other side, former senior intelligence officials said.

But the officials knew of no instances where U.S. citizens were targeted.

The CIA declines comment on covert actions and the authorities it operates under.

Experts on the Constitution and the international laws of war said the Bush administration's definitions create problems.

Unlike the enemy in previous wars, al-Qaida members don't wear uniforms or serve in a foreign nation's army. Nor do they take to traditional battlefields, except in Afghanistan. But the Bush administration and al-Qaida together have defined the entire world as a battlefield — meaning the attack on al-Harethi and Derwish was tantamount to an air strike in a combat zone.

"That is the most vulnerable aspect of the theory," said Scott L. Silliman, director of Duke University's Center on Law, Ethics and National Security. "Could you put a Hellfire missile into a car in Washington, D.C., under the same theory? The answer is yes, you could."

Human rights groups were divided on the legality of the attack on al-Harethi. Amnesty International suggested it was an extrajudicial killing, outlawed by international treaty, while Human Rights Watch officials said they believed it was a legitimate wartime action.

Associated Press Writer Ben Dobbin in Rochester, N.Y., contributed to this story.

Commentary:
There can be no reasonable excuse of an American to support this president any longer. When a single man, the president can be judge, jury and executioner, then the Constitution has been destroyed. Shelby says he's fine with this Presidential Order. This proves sanity doesn't exist in the US Senate (or as Bush says, the United Nations Senate). The Constitution can't be undone by a president or by congress. This is the grossest violation of the Constitution so far.


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