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It's Payback Time for Bush Contributors | The Nation

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It's Payback Time for Bush Contributors

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Let's see which Bush softball we can hit out of the park this week. Should it be tolerating arsenic in the water supply, cutting funds for abused children or eliminating the historic and nonpartisan evaluation of judicial candidates by the American Bar Assn.?

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Robert Scheer
Robert Scheer, a contributing editor to The Nation, is editor of Truthdig.com and author of The Great American Stickup...

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The details of the CIA’s torture program may finally come to light. 

If anything, reporting on the NSA’s overreach has revealed just how dangerous to our freedoms the agency’s surveillance practices really are.

With the Senate hanging on one vote, this administration acts as if it has only limited time to do as much damage as possible to the environment, consumers, the non-rich and common sense.

One day, President Bush appoints as the government's head regulator a professor who's made a career of milking corporate funding while opposing environmental regulation. The next day, we learn that our new UN ambassador-in-waiting aided Central American death squads. Not to mention earlier Bush Administration appointments, such as turning over the Justice Department to John Ashcroft and other right-wing zealots. As the Washington Post reported, "President Bush is quietly building the most conservative administration in modern times, surpassing even Ronald Reagan in the ideological commitment of his appointments."

Hardly "conservative" in the sense of preserving clean air and water and pristine land in Alaska. To the contrary, the gang in power is out to pillage and rape the environment with an abandon not witnessed since the days when strip-mining was in vogue. The principle seems to be that what's good for a company that gave money to the Bush campaign is good for the country. As a Los Angeles Times front-page headline put it: "With Bush, Happy Days Here Again for Business Lobby."

The Times quoted big business lobbyists claiming they were frozen out during the Clinton years of "over-regulation." Strange, isn't it, that the economic boom that benefited so many of them was hardly stifled by those same regulations. But public interest be damned as lobbyists enjoy a rapid string of successes, from wiping out workplace safety rules to freeing mine owners from having to post bonds to ensure they will clean up their messes. Last week, much to the pleasure of industrial polluters, Bush reversed President Clinton's order to lower the level of arsenic in the nation's drinking water.

This followed on the heels of Bush's betrayal of a campaign pledge to prevent global warming by enforcing cutbacks on carbon monoxide emission from power plants. This is an administration that seems to thrill at high energy prices. It is even gutting federal programs to promote energy efficiency by a devastating 30%.

Bush needs to be locked in a room with Erin Brockovich, either the movie or the person, to be reminded that corporations will lie to the public when profit dictates.

But it's not only business greed that moves this MBA President. He's committed to turning back civil rights gains made through the courts by women and minorities. The theft of the presidential election by the US Supreme Court's right-wing junta is the harbinger of what's to come.

If anyone doubts that, look at what Bush did last week when he ended the practice, used since President Eisenhower, of submitting federal judicial candidates to the ABA for professional evaluation. In doing so, Bush was catering to the far right, which has been unhappy with the bar group since 1987, when Judge Robert H. Bork, though rated "well qualified" by the ABA, received negative reviews from a few on the ABA review committee. Nor is the conservative right happy about the bar's support of the Supreme Court's position in Roe v. Wade.

The rights of the unborn remain paramount to this administration. Too bad it doesn't care more about children once they are born, especially disadvantaged children. Bush trumpets a $1.6-trillion tax cut with 43 percent of the benefits going to the super rich, while his budget slashes funding for child care, for ending child abuse and for training doctors in children's hospitals. Data compiled by the states shows 900,000 children are abused or neglected each year, yet Bush cut $15.7 million a year destined for the states to investigate such cases. Bush seeks to "save" another $200 million by cutting child care funding at a time when limits imposed by welfare reform dramatically increase the number of working mothers who cannot afford caretakers for their children.

A $20 million "early learning fund" to improve preschoolers' child care also was eliminated. When Clinton signed that bill last December, one of its co-authors, Alaskan GOP Sen. Ted Stevens, promised the new administration would be supportive: "I expect our new first lady, Laura Bush, a former librarian, to be a champion of early childhood education." Perhaps she is, but she is not the President.

Unfortunately, neither is John McCain, the one Republican with the guts to buck the Administration's unseemly embrace of big money.

Ralph Nader was wrong: There is a huge difference between the two parties. And for the Bush Administration, it's payback time on every front for his greedy legions.

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