Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I was elected to protect the American people from harm.

--President Bush, 1/1/06

Facing cuts in antiterrorism financing, the Department of Homeland Security plans to announce today that it will evaluate new requests for money from an $800 million aid program for cities based less on politics and more on assessments of where terrorists are likely to strike and potentially cause the greatest damage, department officials say.

The changes to the program, the Urban Area Security Initiative, are being driven in part by a reduction in the overall pool of money for antiterrorism efforts. For 2006, Congress has appropriated $120 million less in these urban grants than for 2005....

[Homeland Security Secretary Michael] Chertoff, in a speech last month, said the changes he was considering would require an acknowledgment that the nation could not protect itself against all risks.

"That means tough choices," he said. "And choices mean focusing on the risks which are the greatest. And that means some risks get less focus."....

--New York Times, 1/3/06

Yeah, I know: The government really can't protect everyone from every threat (and obviously it's good that the priorities have shifted to higher-risk areas). But it still infuriates me that top officials of President Macho's administration and party are subject to, as far as I can tell, absolutely no criticism for saying flat out that we have to watch our pennies when it comes to homeland security. I seem to recall that a big reason Bush et al. are still in office is the fact that they and their coat-holders in the media howled in outrage when a certain Democrat talked about reducing terrorism to the level of a "nuisance." It was utterly unacceptable then to suggest anything less than a maximalist, zero-tolerance assault on The Enemy. Now? Whoops -- sorry: We have more will than wallet.

Which, of course, was an absolutely unavoidable set of circumstances -- right?

They call them the PEP and Pease provisions of tax law and they are on their way out. If you are wealthy, this should make you smile. You could be a little richer.

PEP and Pease refer to two tax increases adopted in 1990 when President George H.W. Bush broke his "read my lips" promise against boosting taxes in order to cut the deficit, angering many in the Republican Party. But on Sunday, thanks to a law quietly passed in 2001 when his son, George W. Bush, was in the White House, the PEP and Pease provisions --- essentially limitations on tax exemptions --- began a five-year phaseout at a cost of $27 billion.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank here, some 53.5 percent of this money will go to households earning more than $1 million. Another 43.2 percent will go to those with incomes between $200,000 and $1 million. The rest will go to those earning between $100,000 and $200,000....

Millionaires will receive an average tax cut of $19,000 a year when the two provisions are wiped out, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said. The center added that this comes on top of an average tax cut of $103,000 millionaires received in 2005 because of other tax cuts adopted since 2001....

Yeah yeah yeah -- the rich get tax cuts, government programs get squeezed. I'm not telling you anything you don't know.

Do you know who should regularly be shouting from the rooftops about this sort of thing? Joe Lieberman. What is the point of constantly reminding the world that (a) you are still a Democrat but (b) no one can gainsay your patriotism and hawkishness if you never take advantage of the political capital you accrue by means of your support of the war to mount a serious challenge to any Bush/GOP policies -- especially on matters of security? This really would be a perfect fit for Lieberman if he were what he claims to be, a sincere Democrat who's also a sincere hawk. But he's not -- Washington is like a classroom in which the White House, the GOP, and right-leaners in the media like to whack Democrats' hands with a steel ruler when they act like Democrats, and all Joe cares about is being the teacher's pet, the class snitch.

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