BUSH’S CHILDPROOF BUDGET
George W. Bush pledges to “leave no child behind” even as he touts his tax cut as coming from “the surplus funds” left “after we’ve met our needs.” But a report released by the Institute for America’s Future, joined by Senators Edward Kennedy, Barbara Boxer and Jon Corzine, shows how deceptive Bush’s bookkeeping is. One could draw up a ledger to illustrate this. On the left side of the ledger are the disgraceful numbers: One in six children in America is raised in poverty; 11 million lack healthcare coverage; 14 million attend schools in dire need of repair. And on the right (wrong) side, the numbers in Bush’s budget, which show cuts in funding for children’s health, school renovation and after-school programs. The institute’s report describes how Bush could “balance” this budget by taking the $555 billion he wants to spend on tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent–who average more than $1 million in annual income–and spending it instead on children. The money would lift 2 million kids out of poverty, provide 5 million of them with health insurance, extend childcare to two-thirds of those eligible and provide 7 million children with food stamps. No one doubts how Americans would vote if asked, Should the government spend the money on the wealthy or give poor children a fair start? Be sure to let your representatives in Washington know your choice–and tell them you’ll hold them accountable for theirs. The report–and the senators’ statements–are available at www.ourfuture.org.
VICTORY AT HARVARD
At 3 pm on May 8, the protesters who for twenty-one days had occupied Massachusetts Hall at Harvard declared victory. Although the administration did not agree to the workers’ demands for a living wage, it will set up a committee that will examine and redress the conditions of low-wage workers. The committee will include faculty, students and, for the first time in Harvard’s history, worker representatives. The strikers said their victory would not have been possible without the support of alumni and parents who faxed and e-mailed the administration, the New York alumni who picketed the office of corporation member Ronald Daniel, the Boston activists who picketed the Harvard Club there and continuing media coverage. This successful outcome should give heart to the burgeoning living-wage movement, which John Nichols discusses on page 8. As SEIU International president Andrew Stern said: “Today the students are the ones doing the teaching. They have taught America that all working families deserve a living wage, affordable healthcare and a secure retirement.”
MAKING A NEUMAN OUT OF BUSH
We’ve striven mightily to notify winners of the great Name the President Contest, and the T-shirts should go out in a couple of weeks. In line with a reader’s suggestion, we plan to send one to George W. Bush, addressed Occupant, The White House, Washington, DC. But it turns out that the Bush-as-Alfred-E.-Neuman picture that adorns the shirt may not be such an unkind caricature after all. We have it on the testimony of the Washington Post, no less. A reader wrote the paper’s ombudsman complaining that a picture accompanying an article on Bush’s first 100 days showed “Mr. Bush as Alfred E. Newman [sic] or worse.” The ombudsman defended the picture, writing that the photo editors chose it because it was “up close and personal, a bold image taken during an interview with the Washington Post, and different from the more traditional shots with flags and busts of presidents in the background that you see all the time…. the photo is pensive, intimate. It matched the tone of the story.” So T-shirt owners, you are actually wearing a sensitive likeness of His Illegititude–up close and personal.
Max Holland, a contributor to these pages, was awarded a J. Anthony Lukas Prize for a work in progress, for his book A Need to Know: Inside the Warren Commission. Runner-up for the honor was Elinor Langer, another Nation contributor who is also an editorial board member, for The Death of Mulugeta Seraw. And the winner of a Lukas prize for the best nonfiction work of the year was David Nasaw’s The Chief, a biography of William Randolph Hearst. Nasaw has contributed book reviews to this magazine. Columnist Katha Pollitt won an EMMA (Exceptional Merit Media Award) from the National Women’s Political Caucus for editorial/news analysis.
NEWS OF THE WEAK IN REVIEW
At a fundraiser in heavily Democratic Broward County, Florida, Governor Jeb Bush compared the GOP activists who raised a ruckus during the recount in the late presidential election to “the French Resistance in World War II.” “You were the freedom fighters at a time when it was so important,” said the President Select’s favorite brother.