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Sacrifice? Don't count on it
US News
Posted 9/20/05
By Roger Simon

It is not so much what President Bush is saying these days but what he is not saying.

If you count Hurricane Katrina as the third great crisis of his presidency–Sept. 11, 2001, and the occupation of Iraq being the first two–Bush has once again refused to call for any real sacrifice on the part of the American people to meet the crisis.

This is no accident. Sacrifice is what Democrats call for, not Republicans.

In his Jan. 6, 1941, address to Congress, Franklin D. Roosevelt said: "I have called for personal sacrifice, and I am assured of the willingness of almost all Americans to respond to that call. A part of the sacrifice means the payment of more money in taxes."

Hard to imagine a president saying that today.

John F. Kennedy famously said in his inaugural address on Jan. 20, 1961: "And so, my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country... Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you."

On Jan. 23, 1980, Jimmy Carter said to Congress: "Our material resources, great as they are, are limited. Our problems are too complex for simple slogans or for quick solutions. We cannot solve them without effort and sacrifice."

But Carter had to run against Ronald Reagan for president that year, and Reagan bashed him repeatedly for calling for any sacrifice whatsoever.

"Carter says we've got to get used to austerity and sharing and scarcity and giving up luxury," Reagan would say to crowd after crowd. "Well, I don't believe that! I think we should cover our children's ears when they hear that kind of talk!"

In Ronald Reagan's world, sacrifice was for other countries, not for America. Americans could have whatever they wanted–whether they had the money to pay for it or not.

And George W. Bush is very much in the Ronald Reagan mold. He equates sacrifice with pessimism, and, like Reagan, he wishes to be eternally an optimist.

In a formal speech from New Orleans last Thursday, Bush did not call upon Americans to sacrifice. The next day, responding to a reporter's question about paying for the massive relief effort, Bush offhandedly said: "You bet it's going to cost money. But I'm confident we can handle it. It's going to mean that we're going to have to cut unnecessary spending."

But in Washington, unnecessary spending is like unnecessary sex: It doesn't exist.

And within minutes, CNN's John King was on the air saying he had talked to presidential aides, who admitted they had no specific spending cuts in mind.

Others did: Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said we should cut some of the pork from the $287 billion highway bill that Bush signed into law a month ago. Or we could delay the Medicare drug benefit or ax some of the tax relief that benefits the wealthiest Americans.

But the White House is not talking about any of that, even though we are also fighting a war in Iraq that is costing us $6 billion per month.

What is wrong with all this spending? Who cares that the deficit is currently about $331 billion and the national debt (all the deficits and surpluses–remember surpluses?–added together) is about $7.94 trillion?

A story by Knight-Ridder last week points out what's wrong with it: Starting in the fiscal year that begins next month, the United States will pay $208 billion in interest on the debt. That figure is "more than 25 times next year's $8.2 billion budget for the Environmental Protection Agency."

In other words, interest on the debt buys us nothing: It doesn't buy environmental protection or aircraft carriers or highways or levees. It just pays for the debt.

Who owns our debt, our IOUs? Well, China and other foreign countries own 46 percent of them.

Is it sound national policy to have countries with political agendas that can be radically different from our own in control of the U.S. economy?

No, but that's what you get when you put everything on a charge card.

We could raise taxes to pay our bills, of course. But that would involve sacrifice.

And George Bush is not going to ask for that.

Note how Bush says we have to cut spending but not his tax give away. He's shameless and still unable to accept responsibility for the debt he's created.

Have you ever noticed how the GOP and the media claim there's a new rebirth of patriotism when republicans are elected to the White House? In reality, real patriots don't need a rebirth, they're patriots all the time--but the GOP simply accepts that patriotism is tied to them being in power and the media eats it up.

Something else happens when republicans take power--we get record deficits. During the 90's for example republicans wanted to pass massive tax cuts. Had those tax cuts passed we wouldn't have had a single penny os surplus. President Clinton stopped them from destroying our future. Bush is too weak to stop them.

The GOP doesn't believe in putting money aside for rainy days. They like to spend--or better yet, give it away in what they call tax cuts. Never forget there is no such thing as a tax cut when we have deficits. Deficits are future taxes plus interest. Bush and the GOP have given us $2.2 trillion of new debt in less than five years which represents a $2.2 trillion tax increase. Only idiots in the media and the GOP still think we can afford tax cuts.

Putting all this in perspective is even easier. Since the Reagan tax cut of1981 we went from having less a trillion dollars of debt to almost $8 trillion. Anyone, and I mean, ANYONE who votes for a republican is either uninformed or insane.