Hint: Homeland Security isn't among them.
February 9, 2006 5:35 PM   Subscribe

The 141 Programs Bush Wants to Cut or Kill.
posted by Hot Like Your 12V Wire (82 comments total)

 
I hope the FBI isn't reading this but I don't like President Bush.
posted by cloeburner at 5:38 PM on February 9, 2006


Many of these things look pretty archaic and probably deserve cutting. However, I would need to see specific breakdowns for each program before calling B.S. en total.
posted by snsranch at 5:41 PM on February 9, 2006


At the top of the list is education, with well over $4 billion dollars of reductions or eliminations. Because the federal government clearly spends too much money on education programs.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 5:42 PM on February 9, 2006


Actually, homeland security is being cut:

HOMELAND SECURITY
Office of grants and training, $229 million
Office of grants and training, $694 million

and more good cuts:
Safe and Drug-Free Schools state grants, $347 million
President's Freedom scholarships, $4 million
Clean Coal Power initiative, $45 million
Amtrak, $394 million

I'm surprised there was a whole billion dollars to take out of Agriculture, but I've long heard most career farmers are democrats (due to getting so many grants).

That said, something has to be cut if you're not going to raise taxes so it's not like everything can be funded forever. Are there any links to analysis of these cuts?
posted by mathowie at 5:42 PM on February 9, 2006


mathowie, how dare you knock Amtrak! Yes, it sucks and everything, but... uh... trains are cool! Cuts will just make Amtrak even suckier!
posted by brundlefly at 5:47 PM on February 9, 2006


141? That's all?
posted by mischief at 5:48 PM on February 9, 2006


Also, 12V: Homeland Security *IS* among them.

HOMELAND SECURITY: Office of grants and training, $229 million
posted by mischief at 5:50 PM on February 9, 2006


I love trains, but they should be able to sustain themselves. I hate it when the gov't gives millions and millions to airlines and amtrak.

The gov't funding private companies to keep them afloat seems wrong is all.
posted by mathowie at 5:51 PM on February 9, 2006


Community Connect broadband grants, $9 million.

Honestly, what the fuck is the point of this (and wifi for poor people), if you're too poor to afford a broadband capable PC? I guess you could just go to the library. A tragic inconvenience, that.
posted by tweak at 5:51 PM on February 9, 2006


true matt, but the interstate highway system in America was basically a tax-payer funded giveaway to the auto companies in the 50's. Fair is fair.
posted by bardic at 5:55 PM on February 9, 2006


Really, I agree with you mathowie. I just love train travel, and I'd love to see a decent rail system in this country.
posted by brundlefly at 5:55 PM on February 9, 2006


I like seeing a 100+ million dollar cut, googling for the website, and it looking like the HTML equivalent of a few 13 year olds who wanted to put their Magic: TheGathering decks on the internets. Snip away, sir.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 5:57 PM on February 9, 2006


The gov't can pay for the rails and roads. They shouldn't bail out United Airlines or GM though. I know they employ many, many people, but come on, I don't get a discount when I buy a $300 plane ticket or $25,000 car, so why should they get free money from the US?
posted by mathowie at 5:57 PM on February 9, 2006


Mathowie, I countenance Amtrak cuts when they have a level playing field. Amtrak trains take a back seat to any freight train traffic on that route. And when was the last time you heard the about the sort of improvement money you see going into highway projects going into rail improvements?

I take the Eugene to Portland Amtrak route and it takes me longer than it would to drive. Is that because Amtrak is inefficient? Nope. It's because the tracks haven't been upgraded and freight still gets priority, pushing passenger trains off to the side.

Spend a couple million dollars on rail improvements and I'll bitch about Amtrak not sustaining themselves. But when we intentionally hamstring them its disingenuous at best.
posted by afflatus at 5:58 PM on February 9, 2006


I was surprised at how sensible most of those cuts seem. I wish Total Information Awareness or whatever they're calling it now was listed there, and that the vocational training programs weren't getting cut(because not everyone is college material), but on the whole it seems pretty good, in broad detail.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 5:59 PM on February 9, 2006


Talent search? I'm sure there's a better explanation for this one than what I imagine, but still . . .

And I love trains, too. Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't all of the really great train systems (e.g. the European ones and the Japanese one) heavily subsidized so that they don't go under? Amtrak is a horse that should have been shot long ago, but I'm not sure it's possible to have decent trains without huge government subsidies.

National Drug Intelligence Center, $23 million
State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, $400 million

Yep, I agree with cutting those.

There are lots on the list that I'd cut, too, but lots more that maybe shouldn't be cut. I bet I could come up with a much longer list, and still save some of the good stuff he's cutting.

What's not listed is what other stuff that money will now be spent on -- and that list is most certainly a scary one.
posted by JekPorkins at 6:06 PM on February 9, 2006


I agree with the others who've said that Amtrak should be subsidized. If we had high speed trains connecting the northeast corridor, I think it would be good for everyone.
posted by matkline at 6:13 PM on February 9, 2006


Damn, but seeing so many programs and so many dollars is depressing...it's a sick thing that the Federal government ever got involved with so many of them. Cut away, and let's see if we can focus the remaining federal dollars on true Federal (and Constitutional) requirements.
posted by davidmsc at 6:16 PM on February 9, 2006


Wow, educational programs are really getting the shaft. $3,468 million, about 3x as much money being cut from them than from the second-highest victim, Justice, with $1,116 million.

As a side, I can't resist:

Mathowie, I countenance Amtrak cuts when they have a level playing field. Amtrak trains take a back seat to any freight train traffic on that route. And when was the last time you heard the about the sort of improvement money you see going into highway projects going into rail improvements?
Is this thread being derailed by a discussion of Amtrak? ROFL...rofl...heh.
posted by Crushinator at 6:18 PM on February 9, 2006


Crushinator: booo! seriously, tho, I laughed, but still, shame!
posted by tweak at 6:19 PM on February 9, 2006


Grand total, $14 billion, 609 million.

Amount Bush wants for Iraq and Afghanistan, FY2007 ... $120 billion.
posted by crunchland at 6:23 PM on February 9, 2006


Cut away, and let's see if we can focus the remaining federal dollars on true Federal (and Constitutional) requirements.
posted by davidmsc


Like increased military spending!
(but not on body armor)
posted by papakwanz at 6:23 PM on February 9, 2006


The gov't can pay for the rails and roads.

Well, it should be careful paying for the rails, since Amtrak owns only a very small percent of them.

In most forms of transport, the government usually owns the ports and thoroughfares while private companies operate the vehicles. Amtrak runs this model in reverse, and this condition may explain why Amtrak is an even bigger money pit than the airlines.
posted by Kwantsar at 6:27 PM on February 9, 2006


That said, something has to be cut if you're not going to raise taxes so it's not like everything can be funded forever.

The sad thing is that all of these cuts are purely symbolic. (Some of them may be good cuts: I'm sure some are. Just as some of them are bad cuts).

If you eliminated every discretionary dime, we'd still be in the red. That is the magnitude of Bush's tax cuts.

We are not going to grow our way out of this deficit, nor are we going to cut spending to erase this deficit. Aside from hyper-inflation, the only thing making this deficit go away is canceling Bush's wholly irresponsible tax cuts.
posted by teece at 6:34 PM on February 9, 2006


Wow, educational programs are really getting the shaft. $3,468 million, about 3x as much money being cut from them than from the second-highest victim, Justice, with $1,116 million.

It's actually higher than that. There are two sections in that list for education, one for funding reductions and one for program eliminations.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:34 PM on February 9, 2006


Grand total, $14 billion, 609 million.

Amount Bush wants for Iraq and Afghanistan, FY2007 ... $120 billion.


Yeah, that's the depressing part. All those cuts fund about six weeks in our glorious Struggle Against Global Extremism.

There ought to be more than enough money to fund a bitchin' rail system, and pay for the health care and education of a good chunk of the American working poor.
posted by mkultra at 6:45 PM on February 9, 2006


National Light Rail System site. Cool read if you've got the time.

Good things cost money people, that's just the way it is. If you want good things, you have to be able to suck it up and pay for them. I am all for trimming the fat, but when billions with a B go to Iraq, and to subsidies for exxon, it's hard to get excited about saving a paltry hundred million here and there. We're spending over $2 billion per week in Iraq. So a hundred mil is just minutes, minutes.
posted by zpousman at 6:48 PM on February 9, 2006


Good things cost money, and bad things cost even more money. Most of the things our tax money pays for in the U.S. are not "good things." But if I were trimming the fat, as it were, I'm sure I'd trim several things differently than Bush is doing.
posted by JekPorkins at 6:56 PM on February 9, 2006


Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't all of the really great train systems (e.g. the European ones and the Japanese one)

Not all of them - UK hasn't been for many years now. Of course, setting up a decent rail infrastructure costs billions. Rail companies are regional in the UK but the tracks are wholly owned by RailTrack. And they seem to turn a reasonable profit.

But the big difference between the US and Europe/Japan is that rail travel is practicable -- it's fast and affordable (but not cheap). In the US rail is slow and infrequent. Thus few people take train rather than road (gas prices factor here too) and therefore Amtrack will never turn a big profit -- and what private company would risk billions to upgrade to high speed tracks. Chicken... meet Mr Egg. It needs government investment - you can just see Exxon's lobbyists cheering for that...
posted by NailsTheCat at 7:00 PM on February 9, 2006


I think that we do need to reimagine the major portions of our federals spending. I'd start with an across the board cut in Defense spending (a quickly phased withdrawal from Iraq and increased UN presence would be a good start) combined with a solid plan for universal health care. GM says they pay $1,100 a vehicle for health care expenses as I recall. How much does that add to the pot? Add in Ford, United, all the Steel and mine workers, etc. It would require a feat of political will and an amount of trust that will be difficult to come by. But if we want our country to regain sound financial footing, it is necessary.

I'm all for looking to cut smaller pork barrel programs. But unless we find a way to retool and cut the major national expenses without screwing the poor, then we are doomed to continued mounting national debt. Simple as that.
posted by afflatus at 7:03 PM on February 9, 2006


The Office of Grants and Training that is listed as both being eliminated at $229 and reduced at $694 is not all clear from the Homeland Security web site. It appears to relate to the Office for Domestic preparedness which seems to be the Fed support for the state cost for being scared which means that the states will either not be prepared or have to pick up the check for meeting Fed guidelines for being prepared.
posted by mss at 7:04 PM on February 9, 2006


Amtrak connects the little blue dots in the sea of red. It was gonna get the knife, of course. It makes me depressed.
posted by washburn at 7:04 PM on February 9, 2006


Most of the things our tax money pays for in the U.S. are not "good things."

Most? Please. That is way too strong a statement, even for the most rabid of anti-government rightists. "Some" is the word you were looking for.

But this round of cutting here is purely symbolic: let's not lose sight of that. Bush is doing nothing to balance the budget. He wants a symbolic bit to give to the two remaining fiscal conservatives that might vote for him.

And in all reality, his budget cuts are pure PR: they aren't going to make it through the Republican congress. Some of the cuts may survive (particularly if they only effect liberal or Democratic constituents), but most of it is going down.

This is theatre, people, not anything resembling real sanity on the budget. You can't talk sanity with respect to the budget until Bush's tax cuts are on the chopping block.

We can have our disagreements about what should and should not be cut another day -- probably in 2008 when an adult (hopefully) gets elected president. Until then, this is nothing but rubber bullets for the upcoming campaign season.

Some real and useful departments in the federal government may just take a real hit for Bush's PR move, though. What's a little collateral damage when an election is coming up?
posted by teece at 7:06 PM on February 9, 2006


It would be nice to be able to make decisions of what is a good cut and what is a bad cut based on just a title and price. But you can't. And you shouldn't, IMHO.

So, for instance when tweak says: "Community Connect broadband grants, $9 million. Honestly, what the fuck is the point of this (and wifi for poor people), if you're too poor to afford a broadband capable PC? I guess you could just go to the library. A tragic inconvenience, that."

Actually, the 19 rural communities selected for the grant in September 2005 do not have any access to broadband technology for essential services including police protection, fire service, hospitals, libraries and schools. That is where the money is going.

Also, I like choo choos.
posted by Cassford at 7:23 PM on February 9, 2006


Amtrak suffers from poor management like many companies, but that's hardly the only reason trains haven't really worked in America. The highway system was a government giveaway to Detroit, while gasoline itself is, arguably, subsidized to hell in modern America. Instead of taxing it to its appropriate "real world" value in Europe and Asia, the cost of maintaining the American military (even before Iraq II) is effectively an invisible energy tax--we just don't pay it when we fill up our cars. (Supporting dictatorships like Saudi Arabia is pure bonus.)

And what crunchland said--this is just a drop in the proverbial bucket. An unwinnable war that erodes American credibility and costs many lives? Priceless, literally.

If Bush is to have any credibility as a fiscal conservative, he'd start by getting rid of farm subsidies.
posted by bardic at 7:24 PM on February 9, 2006


This is theatre, people, not anything resembling real sanity on the budget. You can't talk sanity with respect to the budget until Bush's tax cuts are on the chopping block.

Amen to that.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:26 PM on February 9, 2006


Get a load of this:
President Bush, constrained by wars, hurricanes and exploding budget deficits, has sent Congress a 2007 spending plan that is garnering howls of pain from farmers, teachers, doctors and a wide array of other groups with special interests.
...


special interests??? are they insane or just being paid by the GOP? Since when are public school teachers and public hospital doctors special interests?

And check out what's not being cut: For all the hoopla surrounding cuts in Medicare and Medicaid spending, a quieter revolution is taking place in Washington: The advancement of “faith-based’’ social services.

As President Bush signed a significant budget-cutting bill today with an audience of congressional leaders in the East Room of the White House, he signed into law protections for religious groups that spend federal money on the social services that they deliver....

posted by amberglow at 7:28 PM on February 9, 2006


This may be theatre, but it is tragic all the same. The cuts to education just make me ill, particularly when I think of all of the human impact such eliminations -- not reductions here, but out right terminations of program -- would have.

Parental Information and Resource Centers (PIRC) AKA the parental component of No Child Left Behind.
Arts In Education (including Very Special Arts). Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Grants (grants that might allow counselors to spend more time actually helping kids, instead of just coordinating their schedules and classloads). National Writing Program (Trains teachers to be more effective at teaching children how to actually write). Star Schools (Encouraging technology for "underserved populations, including disadvantaged, non-reading, and limited English proficient populations and individuals with disabilities" to improve math, science and foreign language ed). Even Start ("Even Start is an education program for the Nation's low-income families that is designed to improve the academic achievement of young children and their parents, especially in the area of reading").

And here's a kicker ... Civics Education is on the cut list.

This might all be for show, all for the sake of PR, but it is a dangerous game to put so much at stake just for a new stack of talking points.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:29 PM on February 9, 2006


Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't all of the really great train systems (e.g. the European ones and the Japanese one) heavily subsidized so that they don't go under?

>Not all of them - UK hasn't been for many years now.


Erm - I'm sure it's only because it's 3am in the UK now that no one leapt on this, NailsTheCat, but the British system is crap. And has been for a good few years. Laughing stock before privatisation. Went bankrupt after a series of accidents. Railtrack renationalised in effect as Network Rail .

Still crap. And expensive. And subsidised. Possibly the worst of all possible worlds.

But the broader point is true - the French and Spanish have fantastic trains largely by throwing tonnes of cash at them.
posted by TrashyRambo at 7:45 PM on February 9, 2006


Moby is pissed.
posted by homunculus at 7:56 PM on February 9, 2006


Is this thread being derailed by a discussion of Amtrak? ROFL...rofl...heh.

In Soviet Russia, thread derails YOU!
posted by pieisexactlythree at 8:10 PM on February 9, 2006


Underground Railroad Program, $2 million

Are we still sheltering slaves to the free land on the public dime?
posted by Balisong at 8:13 PM on February 9, 2006


Of course they want to get rid of things like vocational training, McDonald's and Walmart have their own training programs. And of course they need to pare down thee "non-essential" budget items: running a police state can be expensive. (The Nazi regime made money by conquering Austria, Czechoslovakia, France and Poland, but for some reason we haven't taken Canada yet.)

Relax, it'll be okay. This is just another of God's blessings for America, part of His mysterious plan. We'll all be better for it, you'll see!
posted by davy at 8:42 PM on February 9, 2006


It pleases me to see so many rural-focused programs getting the axe.

Nothing will make a nation more liberal faster than driving its rural population into an urban lifestyle. And nothing will make that happen faster than gutting the Federal subsidies that artificially sustain places like Randolph, UT. Well played, Mr. Bush!
posted by Chrischris at 8:48 PM on February 9, 2006


Dear Americans: Please stop pretending you can do trains. You can't. You suck at it. Consider using the money for something useful.
posted by Artw at 8:56 PM on February 9, 2006


maybe they should cut the "scapegoat" program
posted by AllesKlar at 8:57 PM on February 9, 2006


Oil and gas research and development, $64 million

I love how when they are making record profits, the oil/gas industry has the audacity to be whining about losing this money.
posted by QuestionableSwami at 9:07 PM on February 9, 2006


chrischris, what the hell is an "urban lifestyle," and how does it make people "liberal?"
posted by JekPorkins at 9:10 PM on February 9, 2006


Nothing will make a nation more liberal faster than driving its rural population into an urban lifestyle. And nothing will make that happen faster than gutting the Federal subsidies that artificially sustain places like Randolph, UT.

Not that I think rural America shouldn't appreciate the supportive role government can play, but there are at least two reasons I can think of not to want rural collapse to happen:

(1) Rural collapse is the coefficient of urban sprawl

(2) Agriculture is a useful productive capacity for a nation to have.
posted by weston at 9:25 PM on February 9, 2006


chrischris, what the hell is an "urban lifestyle," and how does it make people "liberal?"

Don't be obtuse, JekPorkins.

Urban=living in a city or similarl high population-density milieu, often with multi-cultural and mutli-ethnic populations in close proximity. This diversity often has the effect of creating a more progressive political environment as numerous interest groups are forced to compromise and assemble coalitions across cultural and ethnic barriers they would not normally cross in order to wield political influence and get things done. In smaller, more mono-cultural settings (Randolph, UT or my own hometown: Grand Rapids, MI, for instance), this coalition building and the necessary tolerance for difference it engenders is de-emphasized in favor of a brand of identity politics that--in the current American political landscape , at least--has yielded greater rewards for the conservative movement.
posted by Chrischris at 9:27 PM on February 9, 2006


If you eliminated every discretionary dime, we'd still be in the red. That is the magnitude of Bush's tax cuts.

You again teece? How about the largest expansion of government in our history too? I'll never sweat tax cuts; that's MY money and I'd rather decide what to do with it than Big Brother®. As these cuts demonstrate, there is a lot of wasted money out there...and you're upset they actually wanted to give us some back?
posted by j.p. Hung at 9:29 PM on February 9, 2006


"Dear Americans: Please stop pretending you can do trains. You can't. You suck at it. Consider using the money for something useful.
posted by Artw at 8:56 PM PST on February 9 [!]"

Tell that to the billions of dollars worth of stuff that is shuffled around the country on trains every day. :-)

We have quite a few great passenger rail systems here. Metrolink, Caltrain, Amtrak's Capital Corridor..the various rail systems back East.

I think Amtrak is a great thing. Yes, it's slower, but it's a much nicer way to travel. Making it private would simply destroy it. Remember when Santa Fe & Southern Pacific used to run passenger trains? They tossed it when it wasn't making them enough money. That's exactly what'll happen now. :-|
posted by drstein at 9:29 PM on February 9, 2006


Thanks, chrischris. That was articulate, civil, and a good analysis, I think. Not sure I agree, but I do appreciate the great response. Thanks!
posted by JekPorkins at 9:32 PM on February 9, 2006


As these cuts demonstrate, there is a lot of wasted money out there...and you're upset they actually wanted to give us some back?

Not upset. Although some of it I'd rather the gov't keep and spend on the program in question. But it has no effect on our budget. This is the equivalent of you giving a bum a $20. It's just drop in the bucket.

As for those tax cuts you like -- you'll have a problem with 'em pretty soon. They're already starting to make financing difficult, they're putting us in a very precarious fiscal situation. When the recession they cause hits, you'll be wishing you could trade your meager bribe tax cut for a job.

The reality is that America is raising taxes* in the very near future, or heading for an economic melt down. A tax cut is no cut at all if we don't cut spending -- and even if we cut every single discretionary dime, we could not pay for Bush's tax cuts. You do see the point, right? Do I need to spell it out more?

Your tax cut was nothing of the sort -- you'll be paying it back, with interest, because we just borrowed the money we lost in revenue. It's pathetically, ignorantly, amazingly stupid. And yet, we all just shrug. America makes $100K a year, and spends $150K. There is nothing in the budget to get anywhere the $50K cut in spending needed. How long will America last this way?

This isn't hard.

* No, scratch that. Not raising taxes -- eliminating the bullshit tax cuts of the Boy King George. Unless you're very rich, you got very little back, anyway.
posted by teece at 9:41 PM on February 9, 2006


(1) Rural collapse is the coefficient of urban sprawl

True, but I would venture that urban sprawl is, in the long-term, a more manageable--both financially and from a systems perspective-- situation (higher population densities favor the economies of scale mass transit systems are designed to alleviate, as opposed to inefficient, low-density transit systems that are the lifeblood of rural communities) than constantly trying to prop up communities that have neither the population nor Capital (in both money and talent) to sustain themselves. We have over 2000 years experience in managing urban life--there is no reason we can't make it comfortable and sustainable.


(2) Agriculture is a useful productive capacity for a nation to have


There has been no other economic sector in the last hundred years that has benefited more--both in terms of efficiency and productivity--from technological innovation than agriculture. It does not take a family of ten to maintain a farm any longer--one man and his implements can easily cultivate 1000's of acres nowadays. Besides, the realities of modern agriculture (as both as industry and as a cultural entity) are such that the family farm (and the supporting rural communities it engendered) is effectively dead. What sense does it make to artificially prop up those communities now that they have effectively ceded their function to the agribusiness model which dominates American agriculture? Nostalgia?
posted by Chrischris at 9:46 PM on February 9, 2006


Bush can propose anything he wishes. It is all PR bullshit. Congress makes all the decisions, not the executive. Democratic-supported programs will remain cut, while the pork that keeps Republicans in office will remain.

Let's throw the bastard a trip this fall. Let's replace this Republican Congress with one that will impeach. The sooner we stop this lunatic, the less reparations our grandkids will have to pay.

Even as it is, this is going to be rough. The Democrats will have to increase taxes to fix the damage caused by the Republicans (as usual), so the Republicans will then scream "Tax and spend!" repeatedly. If it is bad enough, we'll simply repeat German history. The next wave of repression and for-profit war will be worse than this one.

I say, cut our losses and prosecute fully, both criminal and civil. Take those ill-gotten profits right back.
posted by Goofyy at 9:49 PM on February 9, 2006


one man and his implements can easily cultivate 1000's of acres nowadays.

Your point was a good one, but this particular line is an almost comical exaggeration. I assume you know that's not really true.
posted by JekPorkins at 9:50 PM on February 9, 2006


Yeah, it was a bit of hyperbole. But my point about the drastic (unprecedented in the history of agriculture, actually) reduction in manpower required to farm still stands.
posted by Chrischris at 9:53 PM on February 9, 2006


The urban/rural split is very often the defining characteristic in American politics. Republicans are able to win, in part, because they can effectively leverage the disproportionate power given to rural voters by our Constitutional system (for instance, Dems in the Senate, outnumbered 44 to 56 IIRC, actually represent the majority of US citizens in their minority status). They work some similar magic in the House to a lesser degree, but I can't remember what it is. The result is that Republicans have a majority representation beyond their actual proportion of voters -- it's a 50/50 split in voters, yet they have a majority in both chambers of congress. And it helps them win the presidency, as the Electoral College has the same bias.

Further, a startling number of issues that split Republican/Democrat are almost exactly the same if you say rural/urban.

ChrisChris is right on in that respect (although I doubt Bush's proposed cuts will actually do anything to push people to urban centers, sadly. But a rabbit can dream).

But rural voters wanting one set of unworkable rules for urban voters (and to a lesser degree the opposite) is the fundamental tension in US politics.
posted by teece at 9:57 PM on February 9, 2006


I think that to frame the partisan split in the U.S. as urban/rural is not quite accurate. I'd characterize it more as urban/suburban&rural. I think it really turns suburban folks off to the democrats when they perceive democrats as acting as though republicans are hicks and democrats are sophisticated city dwellers, and suburbanites don't exist.
posted by JekPorkins at 10:04 PM on February 9, 2006


$71 million dollars cut from HHS mental health and substance abuse programs (these fund are probably part of what keeps community mental health programs alive - which keeps ill people who have no other place to go in treatment). Sickening.
posted by sirvesa at 10:09 PM on February 9, 2006


I think it really turns suburban folks off to the democrats when they perceive democrats as acting as though republicans are hicks and democrats are sophisticated city dwellers, and suburbanites don't exist.

I disagree with this assessment. I think that Republican fiscal policy (an artificially low federal interest rate which has suppressed mortgage rates to the point where many suburbanites either upgraded their home beyond what might be considered historically reasonable for their income level, or took advantage of refinance opportunities to re-allocate equity wealth into more fungible--and lifestyle-ehancing--assets) has much more to do with suburban support than anything as nebulous as Democratic contempt. Once the housing bubble collapses or fuel prices reach a consistently uncomfortable level (it takes a lot of gas to drive 32 miles a day {avg. American commute as of 2005} and heat a 2200 sq foot house with cathedral ceilings), I think you will see some of that support fade--especially if no systemic solutions are forthcoming. Those who can't afford to maintain the suburban lifestyle will find themselves in exactly the same situation as the rural communities--economic necessity will force them closer to the city center and into higher density neighborhoods, where (surprise, surprise) they will find themselves living cheek-by-jowl with folks who are perhaps quite a bit different from themselves...
posted by Chrischris at 10:20 PM on February 9, 2006


I think that to frame the partisan split in the U.S. as urban/rural is not quite accurate.

From the scholarship I've read on the issue, it's very accurate. Suburbs complicate things, because they have some elements of urban culture, but not all of them. Bu they do not destroy the thesis.
posted by teece at 10:21 PM on February 9, 2006


Teaching American history, $71 million

'cuz if your kids don't know what's happened before them, they won't know that they should be mad at what we're doing to them today.
posted by RockPaperScissors at 10:25 PM on February 9, 2006


I'm ok with all of these, and I'd like to see a bunch more tacked on as well.
posted by madajb at 10:26 PM on February 9, 2006


I think that Republican fiscal policy (an artificially low federal interest rate which has suppressed mortgage rates

First, I'm not sure what you mean by "artificially low federal interest rate." It's always artificial -- there's no such thing as a non-artificial federal interest rate. Second, Greenspan's the one who set the low interest rate, not Bush.

Next, the suburbs were republican long before the housing bubble began to inflate.

Last, economic necessity doesn't force people into the city, it generally forces them out farther, since generally it's easier to afford a higher quality of life farther from the city center. I have a hard time believing that people move into the city because they can't afford to live in the suburbs anymore. I suppose that eventually gas could get so expensive that it's cheaper to live in the city and send the kids to private schools, but it would have to be really expensive before the economics would work out that way.

Oh, and not that this is really relevant, but I live right in the city.
posted by JekPorkins at 10:33 PM on February 9, 2006


It's always artificial -- there's no such thing as a non-artificial federal interest rate. Second, Greenspan's the one who set the low interest rate, not Bush.
True, but Greenspan served at the pleasure of the president, so, in effect, his policy decisions were de-facto extensions of the president's policies. Regarding the rates themselves, it could be argued that, while the lowering was a (somewhat successful) attempt to revive a moribund economy by increasing the flow of money, it also had the happy effect of pushing mortgage rates down (lets not forget how huge a percentage of the economy is accounhted for by new housing starts) and freeing up a great deal of money for those who already had the requisite equity. This was a win-win policy, and one which the Republicans have not been shy in taking credit for.

Next, the suburbs were republican long before the housing bubble began to inflate.

See my earlier statements about monoculture.

I have a hard time believing that people move into the city because they can't afford to live in the suburbs anymore.

Granted. My point about moving into the city was more a prediction than a statement of historical fact. We'll see how it plays out, but I am skeptical that those who can't afford to stay in the suburbs will actually choose to increase their expenses by moving farther away from their work.
posted by Chrischris at 10:50 PM on February 9, 2006


Erm, you all read to the end and saw this, right?

Corporation for Public Broadcasting, $114 million

So, PBS is toast now?
posted by jokeefe at 10:53 PM on February 9, 2006


My local PBS station say's that only 6% of there funds comes from federal & state tax money.

PBS really is one of the best things going on in TV. And it's a damn shame that they might cut funds.

What about the social services like medicare?

What kind of cuts there?
posted by Dreamghost at 11:05 PM on February 9, 2006


Regarding the rates themselves, it could be argued that, while the lowering was a (somewhat successful) attempt to revive a moribund economy by increasing the flow of money, it also had the happy effect of pushing mortgage rates down (lets not forget how huge a percentage of the economy is accounhted for by new housing starts)

I've read more than one economist who was of the opinion that Greenspan's actions in the deflation of the Dot-Com bubble were a delaying of the inevitable -- the trading of that bubble for a housing bubble. His policies up to that point made this inevitable.

While he's currently being remembered as a genius, the last few years (and the near future) are going to put some real tarnish on the shine.
posted by teece at 11:06 PM on February 9, 2006


This was a win-win policy, and one which the Republicans have not been shy in taking credit for.

You're right about that. Taking credit for Greenspan's successes and disavowing his mistakes was the presidential boilerplate during Al's long tenure, regardless of the party in power.
posted by JekPorkins at 11:06 PM on February 9, 2006


We have over 2000 years experience in managing urban life--there is no reason we can't make it comfortable and sustainable.

What sense does it make to artificially prop up those communities now that they have effectively ceded their function to the agribusiness model which dominates American agriculture? Nostalgia?

I certainly have no sentimental feelings for large-scale industrial agriculture, nor a particular desire to subsidize it via taxes (though it's possible there's some social benefit through doing so, if the end result is making food more affordable for the poor?). And you're right about technology increasing yields. But I don't think the question is settled about whether the current method is sustainable. The industrial revolution is really only 1-2 centuries old, and no one is really sure exactly how much energy we've got from readily usable sources to fuel that side of the system. Nor do we have any more than a handful of centuries of experience with managing the current order of magnitude of urban density.

I think there's also value in sustaining some degree of culture / society in direct contact with the countryside and wilderness. This isn't just transcendental wilderness spirituality (though that has real value too), it's a way of maintaining a body of practical knowledge associated with the wise use of a place and how to live in such places.

For those reasons, I think we've probably been wise up to this point in our history to avoid what would amount to turning rural america into nothing more than a series of resource colonies for urban islands. We've avoided that by investing in it and giving it a solid vote. I think it's interesting (and discouraging) this approach has eventually bred a political climate where the rural population by and large seems to supports a party and philosophy which is apparently quite sanguine about eradication of that style of investment -- and the opposing party is quite ready to let them hang themselves. Maybe I'm wrong about the social and economic value of treating rural america otherwise, and industrial agriculture and the urban islands are in fact a perfectly sustainable and desirable future. But maybe not.
posted by weston at 11:08 PM on February 9, 2006


destroying an already pathetic rail system sure seems like an odd way to get rid of that "oil addiction" the Leader of teh Free World talked about last week.

and, not to derail, but I truly cannot see why a Democrat would want to become President in 2009 -- she'd have to pass a monster tax increase (leaving Iraq won't be an option, what would Blackwater, Halliburton et al do without all that sweet, sweet freedom-loving cash)

posted by matteo at 12:35 AM on February 10, 2006


on the other hand, the education cuts make sense -- a more ignorant youth will be more easily misled in the future
posted by matteo at 12:36 AM on February 10, 2006


I truly cannot see why a Democrat would want to become President in 2009

Same reason that anyone, republican or democrat, ever wants to become president: Lust for power, self validation, and a big ego boost. (I'll concede that there are some politicians who initially enter politics for altruistic reasons, but by the time someone gets to the level where they can realistically run for president, altruism is off the table -- it's all about ego and power.)
posted by JekPorkins at 12:53 AM on February 10, 2006


Brief side comment on UK trains. They aren't crap, at least compared to Amtrak, but they are heavily subsidised. They have had serious financial and operational problems, not least because long-term spending starvation under the Tories (1979-97) put them decades behind continental systems in development, and ten years behind on basic maintenance. Then the dying Tory government privatised them in haste, and UK travellers are currently repenting at leisure.

But it's not all bad. Despite the halving of the network in the '60s and '70s (some closures inevitable, some not) the railways are now carrying more passengers than at any time since before WWII, and all the debate is around how to fund big structural improvements, not how to manage decline.

To me, that glass is half full.
posted by athenian at 4:43 AM on February 10, 2006


It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with 49038.
posted by Eideteker at 7:22 AM on February 10, 2006


Same reason that anyone, republican or democrat, ever wants to become president: Lust for power, self validation, and a big ego boost.

I realize that this cute little cynicism is all the rage these days in the US, because, well, American government just plain sucks right now.

But you do realize that American government sucks because we, the people suck, right?

Just checking. The idea that government and politicians are selfish, evil, incapable of good, etc... is THE primary reason fuckwads like George Bush can do so much damage.

If you don't hold them to a higher standard, they won't conform to one. If you expect your government to be ineffective and evil, you will get a government that is ineffective and evil.

We are the government's boss. We own its faults.
posted by teece at 9:47 AM on February 10, 2006


The Democrats will have to increase taxes to fix the damage caused by the Republicans (as usual), so the Republicans will then scream "Tax and spend!" repeatedly.

The Democrats can deal with this through savvy media releases clearly identifying how such horrible things came to be, ie. it's entirely the fault of the Republicans.

America needs a little educating. The vast majority of people still believe that Republicans are all about smaller government and less spending. Broadcasting Ben & Jerry's oreo-analogy would go a long way to enlightening the dumbshits.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:59 AM on February 10, 2006


interesting post. Lots to chew over.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:51 AM on February 10, 2006


How about we kill "National Missile Defense" and use that money for something actually useful?
posted by nofundy at 12:21 PM on February 10, 2006


Teece says: The idea that government and politicians are selfish, evil, incapable of good, etc... is THE primary reason fuckwads like George Bush can do so much damage.

If you don't hold them to a higher standard, they won't conform to one. If you expect your government to be ineffective and evil, you will get a government that is ineffective and evil.


Politicians are not necessarily evil, and are certainly not incapable of good. And there are many who aren't selfish. But the ones that make it far enough to run for president are, without exception and by definition selfish, egotistical and power hungry. Without those attributes, they wouldn't be able to run for president successfully. That doesn't mean they can't do good things.

It doesn't matter how good the American people are, or what we expect from our government when it comes to who ends up in the white house -- we, the people, can control the beast, but it is a beast in any case.

This is not cynicism, it is reality, and it is the only attitude that will ever allow the people to hold government to a higher standard.
posted by JekPorkins at 12:38 PM on February 10, 2006


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