Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Saturday | August 31, 2002

Taking stock of Bush priorities

Krugman recently wrote about efforts by the Department of Veterans Affairs to give our nation's vets the shaft. Tipped off by a memo posted by Joshua Marshall, Krugman wrote:

Citing "conservative OMB budget guidance" for spending on veterans' health care, the memo instructed subordinates to "ensure that no marketing activities to enroll new veterans occur within your networks." Veterans are entitled to medical care; but the administration hopes that some of them don't know that, and that it can save money by leaving them ignorant.

In other words, there's a budget crunch, so let's save money by enrolling fewer vets. While utterly lacking in Bush's supposed "compassion", there could theoretically be some logic to the move. Probably not, but let's give the administration the benefit of the doubt. The message: saving money is paramount in these tough budgetary times.

So how to explain this?

One of Bush's top campaign promises was to help religious organizations compete for federal money to run charitable programs, including soup kitchens, homeless shelters and treatment for addiction. The House passed such a bill last year, but this fall's crowded legislative calendar makes passage of a Senate version problematic.

So the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives is pursuing a new agenda that does not depend on the consent of Congress, starting with the development of proposals to change a host of federal regulations to lower the barriers encountered by religious groups in dealing with the federal government.

The administration also plans to stage seminars around the country over the next seven months to teach more than 5,000 religious groups how to use current law to win federally funded contracts.

So, while the White House has ordered VA officials to cease all outreach efforts for our nation's veterans, as well as blocked congressionally appropriated funds to alleviate shortages in the nation's VA hospitals, the administration will conduct seminars all around the country to teach religious groups to spend (supposedly scarce) federal dollars?

Ultimately, this is symptomatic of Bush's skewed priorities. Bush expects its armed forces to do the dying in pursuit of his 2004 re-election effort. Yet, when it comes to their health care, Bush would rather they suffer in silence rather than jeopordize his faith-based initiative or precious tax cuts.

Posted August 31, 2002 03:04 PM | Comments (2)


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