Political Animal

MORE ON BUSH-ONOMICS….There’s a PR

MORE ON BUSH-ONOMICS….There’s a PR problem with the Bush plan too. A PR problem for the Democrats, that is. Here is RealClear Politics’ take on the issue:

“THEY’VE TAKEN STEROIDS”: That’s how one GOP aide described the White House’s $674 billion economic stimulus plan….

By contrast, the Dems $136 billion proposal looks positively paltry….If the Bush plan had been only twice the size of the Democrats’ plan, the relative distance between the two plans is small, and all of the sudden the Democrats gain the appearance that they are serious – almost as serious as Bush – about cutting taxes and stimulating the economy. But by proposing a plan that is almost five times greater than the Democrats’ plan, Bush creates the opposite impression. Look at the language used in the press: Bush’s plan is “bold” and “aggressive” and by comparison the Democrats’ plan is tagged as “modest” and “timid.”

Actually, the Democratic plan provides $136 billion this year, while Bush’s plan provides less than $100 billion. In terms of short-term stimulus, the Democratic plan is bigger.

But it won’t play that way in the press.

BUSH STIMULUS PLAN UNVEILED!….WELL, I’M

BUSH STIMULUS PLAN UNVEILED!….WELL, I’M STIMULATED, ANYWAY….So the Bushies ran their “stimulus” plan up the flagpole last week, presumably to gauge reaction and fine tune it before going public with the real thing. So what happened? They made it even worse. Here’s what they came up with:

Proposal

10-Year Cost

End dividend tax

$364 billion

Accelerate income tax cuts

$64 billion

Speed removal of marriage penalty

$58 billion

Speed up increase in child tax credit

$91 billion

Speed up move of low income taxpayers to 10% bracket

$48 billion

Adjustments in alternative minimum tax

$29 billion

Incentives for small business purchases

$16 billion

Special $3000 account for unemployed workers

$3.6 billion

Total

$674 billion

It’s amazing: every time I think I’m finally completely jaded, the Bush administration still manages to surprise me with its sheer mendacity and incompetence. Last week they were proposing $100 billion in state aid and extensions to unemployment, which got wide praise. So what did they do? They dumped it.

The dividend tax cut, on the other hand, was widely ridiculed. So what did they do? They expanded it. And added a bunch of other tax cuts into the package for good measure.

This plan is almost beyond comprehension. There is virtually nothing in it that will provide a short term stimulus, and even what’s there amounts to only $98 billion in the next 16 months. And on a long-term basis, the tax cuts are going to increase the federal deficit out to infinity and beyond, something that Republicans used to think was a bad thing.

Marginal tax rates are no longer at 70% and there’s no special reason to think that the United States is suffering from too much taxation at the moment. But the Republican party has become like some kind of mutant cyborg whose programming has become defective: the only words left in their vocabulary are “tax cuts” and they are simply going to keep repeating them over and over like a Hari Krishna chant regardless of whether they make any sense in current circumstances. It just boggles the mind.

As Paul Krugman put it, “Ideology aside, will these guys ever decide that their job includes solving problems, not just using them?”

AND YOU THINK OUR SCHOOLS

AND YOU THINK OUR SCHOOLS ARE BAD?….Saudi Arabia is apparently planning some educational reforms:

Education Minister Dr. Muhammad Al-Rasheed has said that the Saudi school syllabus has ?several defects? and his ministry is making every effort to address and eliminate them.

Hopefully the “defects” he’s planning to address include stuff like this:

Following a lesson on the monotheistic faiths, Saudi Arabian schoolchildren are asked to discuss ?With what types of weapons should Muslims arm themselves against the Jews?? That question is part of an official textbook for 8th grade students which also emphasizes that ?Jews and Christians were cursed by Allah and turned into apes and pigs,? and that ?The hour [the Day of Judgment] will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them.?

You know, separation of church and state is probably a pretty good idea, no?