President Bush cuts deficits like a little boy angry about chores. Instead of putting his toys away, they’re shoved under the bed. Forced to take out the trash, he kicks the cat.
Bush promised to cut the $400 billion-plus U.S. deficit in half by the end of his second term, but also wants to expand it significantly to privatize Social Security, make old tax cuts permanent and add more. So he petulantly and destructively responds with $15 billion in cuts to domestic programs, many of which are needed by the poor and middle-class.
One program that will be cut entirely, if Bush gets his way, is Even Start, which would cost taxpayers $257 million next year to keep helping poor people learn to read. If ending the program sounds cruel, it is not without justification, according to the president.
“Families in Even Start have made no more progress toward literacy than a similar group of families outside the program,” he told the Detroit Economic Club yesterday. “Even Start is not working, and so I’ve asked that the program be eliminated and focus resources on things that do work.”
An example of “things that do work,” apparently, is missile defense, which, in reality, does not work. The most recent test failed, remember, at an $85 million price tag, unable to even get off the ground to take down a dummy missile that, if past tests are any indicator, had a homing device that would have allowed the Missile Defense Agency to fake success.
Missile defense doesn’t work. It may never work. It makes very little sense in an era when a nuclear bomb can be packed into a suitcase and driven across a border. But it is funded next year — to the tune of $7.8 billion. Buh-ill-ee-yunnn.
The administration says this is justified by the long-term need for missile defense, which means failures can be tolerated because they point the way toward improvement and ultimate success. This reasoning is somehow inapplicable to Even Start, the failure of which is far less cut and dried than Bush’s assertion suggests.
Mr. President, missile defense is not working, and so I’m asking that the program be eliminated to focus on things that do work. Ending the missile defense program on its own, I note, is fully half of all the deficit savings being proposed for fiscal year 2006.