August 10, 2003
Bush bashing

The folks at Public Citizen, whom I mentioned in an earlier post, lampooned President Bush in Crawford yesterday as part of their White House for Sale campaign.

[A] group of advocates sought to put some heat on the president for what they said was excessive fund raising that creates the impression that people can buy favorable treatment from the Bush administration.

The 20-by-12 inflated White House was erected by the group Public Citizen, which monitors campaign financing.

"These people are some of the smartest businessmen in America, and if they didn't continue to see a payback in their investment in the Bush campaign, they wouldn't continue to make these kinds of donations time after time," said Tom Smith, director of Public Citizen for Texas.

Asked if they would mount similar protests at events staged by Bush's Democratic rivals, McDonald said, "All parties do this, all the major candidates use the same techniques. But the Bush network is the most sophisticated we've ever seen."

The protesters' news conference was held beside a local clapboard house bought by a group of Austin peace advocates for $54,000 in January and dubbed "Peace House".

Less flamboyant, but more intriguing to me, is the news that Rep. Charlie Stenholm gave the Democrats' weekly radio address, and ripped into President Bush in doing so.

"When you find yourself in a hole, the first rule is to quit digging," he said in the Democrats' weekly radio address. "Yet the Republican leadership in Washington continues to advocate policies that would put us further in the red."

The administration recently projected deficits of more than $450 billion this year and $475 billion next year -- numbers that don't factor in money borrowed from Social Security and other trust funds, Stenholm said.

"Budget deficits place a drag on the economy and our living standards now and in the future," Stenholm said. "Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has repeatedly warned that deficits undercut the ability of the economy to grow in a way that reduces unemployment and increases the wages of American workers."

Stenholm said deficits are a bad legacy for future generations. He said interest payments on the nation's debt are an extra burden for taxpayers, past and future.

"The $323 billion we will spend this year for interest on our $6.7 trillion national debt represents a 'debt tax' that must be paid by all future generations and can never be repealed," he said. "Continuing to run up debt will ensure that we and our children and our grandchildren are overtaxed for the rest of our lives."

Stenholm said "it's not too late to reverse course and embrace a policy of fiscal discipline that boosts our economy and promotes long-term growth." He urged Bush to reconsider his economic agenda.

Given that Stenholm is one of the Democrats marked for elimination under Tom DeLay's redistricting scheme, and given that Stenholm represents one of the stronger Republican areas of Texas, you'd figure he'd be an unlikely candidate to deliver this message. Maybe he figures that his odds of reelection in 2004 are independent of what happens in the neverending Legislative session, I don't know. I do know that fiscal discipline is a message that plays well in that part of the world, and I see this as a theme that will get a lot of play in Democratic talking points between now and next November. After all, as Kos points out, if big deficits are a reason to boot Gray Davis, then surely they're a reason to boot Bush.

If that's the case, then I consider the recent rumblings about Ross Perot to be a nonstarter. Unlike 1992, the deficit has been an issue from the beginning. Howard Dean has made an issue of it all along, and has gotten a lot of publicity for doing so. Dean actually does a pretty good unintentional Perot impression when talking about the deficit, and he doesn't have the baggage of being a wacky paranoid billionaire who once claimed that the CIA was disrupting his daughter's wedding plans. It wouldn't surprise me if he's already picked up the support of some of Perot's constituency. Any former Perot supporters out there that want to comment on that?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 10, 2003 to Show Business for Ugly People | TrackBack