Questions Answered -- On Sunday's Meet the Press, President Bush fielded a flurry of questions from host Tim Russert. The questions were good, and Bush had answers at the ready, but the problem was that those answers raised more questions -- questions Russert failed to follow up on.
For example, Bush claimed that his new budget would halve the deficit in five years. Economists disagree, starting by pointing out the obvious missing pieces: Bush's budget doesn't even include a single dollar for Iraq or account for additional hoped-for tax cuts. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that by 2009, the deficit will remain around $500 billion.
One reason the deficit will persist is because of the recently passed Medicare prescription drug benefit, which keeps getting more expensive. The Washington Post reports that congressional Republicans are mad because they have just learned that the new law will actually cost taxpayers $134 billion more than the president and supporters of the bill had promised; in fact, it will now cost more than half a trillion dollars over the next 10 years. When asked, administration officials offered no reason, except to say predicting Medicare costs can be tricky. (Well, that ought to calm everybody down.)
As for jobs, Bush told Russert that unemployment is going down and that more jobs are being created. Surely Russert had the materials from the president's first tax cut, back in March 2001, when he estimated that the move would create 1.84 million new jobs by the end of 2003. Funny, but tough guy Russert didn't ask Bush what happened to that pledge. Overall, the president promised the creation of 5.5 million jobs by 2004. Instead, according to Jobwatch.org, 2 million jobs have been lost since the president took office. It's expected that he will have to run for reelection as the first president since Herbert Hoover to have presided over a net job loss.
Incarceration Comes First -- From Albany, Ore., comes the news that one Fabian Gomez-Montalvo, age 20, who came into the United States illegally, was convicted twice of breaking into homes and climbing into beds where he fondled women. He was sentenced to 27 years in prison, but here's the punch line: Upon release, he will be deported.
Do the math on this one. Assuming that Oregon spends about $25,000 per year, give or take, on each prisoner, the grand total for Gomez-Montalvo will come in at just under $700,000. Then he will be deported. (Take that, Gomez-Montalvo!) In the meantime, Oregon can't afford to keep its schools open. Do we see a problem here?
Publication date: 02/12/04