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"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
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The devil is in the details

Fri, Feb 11th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

Just when you were getting comfortable with the notion that it was the other guy that was getting screwed, ol George Bush put out his 2006 budget. And now you know its not just the poor that will be getting hammered, but people closer to home like the elderly, school kids, farmers and veterans.

Bushs $2.57 trillion budget increases spending for the military and homeland security, pays for debt service on the US deficit, and provides for basic governmental programs.

This figure doesnt include the $80 billion the president says he needs to fight his so called war on terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nor does it include the money he wants to spend dismantling Social Security.

In Bushs budget, 150 programs would be cut, including farm supports, Medicaid - the federal health program for the poor, aid to cities, and several education programs. Included in the cuts are programs for extra policemen, training and equipment for firefighters, food stamps, early childhood education, medical benefits for veterans, and energy assistance. Some critics call Bushs budget class warfare from the top down.

Locally, farm subsidies, through commodity loan deficiency payments, constitute a sizable percentage of farm income. Between 1995 and 2003, farmers in Fillmore County received more than $120 million in commodity payments. And Fillmore County, with 1300 people, many of whom are elderly, has a high incidence of Medicaid, making it one of the more impoverished counties in Minnesota.

Saying that he needs a tight budget to trim the deficit, Bush forgets that it was his policies - ill thought out tax cuts to the wealthy and a senseless venture into Iraq - that drained the federal surplus he inherited from Bill Clinton in the first place. Speaking of which, Mr. Bush wants to make those tax breaks permanent (the ten year cost is $1.29 trillion).

Even Republican Congressman Gil Gutknecht, known as a fiscal conservative, has cast a skeptical eye on the Presidents budget.

If the President is serious about fiscal restraint, hes got to incorporate the cost of the war in Iraq and insist that Congress not spend a penny more than the budget authorizes. Gutknecht said in a prepared statement.

There is no doubt that Congress will have a final say in how the 2006 budget is crafted. But if you believe that Bushs budget represents the values of this administration (the devil is in the details), then his budget is certainly a warning to just about everyone.

But then you should have already known that compassionate conservatism is just one more useless slogan.

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