Perhaps the new Democratic majority in Congress can slow down, if not bring to a halt, the current presidential insanity. Arrogant and uninformed earlier in his presidency, George W. Bush now seems, at best, out of control.
Many Americans join their world neighbors in abhorring his plan to increase — rather than bring home — our troops in Iraq, in defiance of his own Study Group. Equally in need of scrutiny, however, are the more subtle critical areas in which Bush thrashes wildly and dangerously.
His stonewalling of the global community at Kyoto embarrassed even Christie Todd Whitman, his own secretary at the Environmental Protection Agency (who was later sued by New York City residents claiming injuries from toxic post-9/11 air, and who say Whitman assured them it was “safe”). Bush, as if he invented the concept, now says that global warming is real.
He pushed for a prescription drug benefit for elders. Then he gave them a plan that prohibits the federal government from negotiating lower drug prices with the mighty pharmaceutical lobby. Old people — if they can navigate the absurd number of choices necessary to qualify for benefits in the first place — face a giant hole in their coverage. Too many still cannot afford the related out-of-pocket payments. This obtuse plan also costs them, and us, tens of billions of tax dollars to implement. Lilly, Merck, and Pfizer, meanwhile, still control our medical destinies.
More than half of the states already have a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum. Bush says he wants to raise that federal wage base. He fails, however, to speak of the thousands of manufacturing jobs lost by American workers, to countries like Mexico, China, and India, in the post-NAFTA hemorrhage started by W’s role model, Ronald Reagan.
The dollar is close to losing its place as a global currency standard. Many Americans can scarcely afford to travel beyond their borders, anyway. The ongoing and increased danger and the related inconvenience of travel since 9/11 deserve mention, as does global hostility to Americans, much of it fostered by the White House’s ill-conceived response to the terror threat.
At home, we wonder how to pay for the gasoline it takes to drive to school and work, more dependent on Osama’s native Saudi Arabia than ever. Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez taunts, “They want oil: they’ll pay more!” Equally worrisome, Mexico and other Latin American countries seem enthralled with Chavez.
Democrats say all this has to be fixed. They must use their power to walk that walk. Will they speak for the majority of Americans, and Rhode Islanders, who can no longer tolerate W’s antics? Will the legislative branch finally flex its checks and balances to stop the madness?
The only correct answer is yes on both questions.