Tuesday, April 01, 2003

We Have to Pay for a War? Who Knew?

You know how conservatives always say that liberals must hate America? I think it's far more true that conservatives must hate Americans--at least if their Arizona budget plan is any guide. It's all these autistic kids' fault--they should be told that they should lift themselves up by their bootstraps and not rely on government handouts. They won't understand, of course, but forget about therapy; maybe ideology can cure them!

Fiscal Folly

East Valley Tribune, Mar. 30, 2003

How about these so-called conservatives? Based on their budget, they love humanity. It’s people they can’t stand.

Why else would they want to eliminate services for some 1,200 abused and neglected children? Too bad about the abuse, kids, but the GOP legislative leadership wants to neglect you, too.

And we apparently need more tolerance for domestic violence during a recession. The GOP budget cuts 20,000 emergency shelter beds for women and children escaping from battering and abuse. That’s the Republican plan -- get smacked around by your boyfriend, then again by the Legislature.

The leadership’s budget increases spending on highways, but kicks 50,000 kids off health insurance. By eliminating funding to community health centers, some 47,800 people lose access to primary care. Really, who needs their health when they should be driving SUVs instead?

This is what the GOP legislative leadership wants to do. This is their plan. This is their “vision” for Arizona.

Victims of child abuse, domestic violence, and autism just don’t matter. It’s not about raising taxes, either. Gov. Napolitano’s budget doesn’t make these cuts, and doesn’t raise taxes. But the GOP can’t support her because they claim there’s “too much borrowing.” So childhood immunizations, day care, and treatment programs get slashed and trashed.

It’s an embarrassingly flimsy justification for kids, the elderly, and the ill bearing all the burdens of GOP ideology. First, these borrowing mechanisms are time-tested techniques applied by legions of GOP governors, here and elsewhere. Revenue bonding, rollovers, jiggering the fiscal year calendar; the GOP has done them all with the aid and comfort of these same so-called “fiscal conservatives.”

In 2000, when governor of Texas -- during the height of the economic boom -- George W. Bush used an 11-month fiscal year to create bogus expenditure numbers justifying a tax cut. These same numbers-matter-more-than-people Republicans considered that just peachy.

But more flagrantly, we now have a $330 billion federal deficit under Bush’s watch that’s headed north of $400 billion. (We have to pay for a war? Who knew?) We’re supposed to kick autistic kids out of treatment because of fear of -- gasp! -- revenue bonding when the federal government is spending money it doesn’t have with previously-unimaginable abandon?

Suddenly, whether a deficit is bad depends solely on which level of government is involved? And if what the president does has no bearing on what we do in Arizona, then what was all that hot air about Clinton’s flawed moral example?

The latest insult to kids and domestic violence victims and the mentally ill comes from Tom Patterson of the Goldwater Institute, who urges a “temporary” or “short term” cutback in such programs until -- well, it’s not really clear until what. But that’s how those conservatives think, as if these kids will take a year or two off from Princeton, then pick up where they left off. If your kid is autistic at age 7, he’ll probably still be autistic at age 9 when the recession ends, right?

If you think these conservatives will urge resuming treatment and health insurance programs when the economy recovers, then I guess you’ll believe anything.

Face it -- it’s a test. If the GOP can get away with leaving domestic violence victims out in the street, they’ll start going after the big bucks. Public health. State universities. Education. Honestly, how vital are second and tenth grade, anyway? Once accounting principles become more important than people, there’s no telling what they’ll “accomplish.”

So legislators, which is more important: Two or three years of an autistic child’s life, or the Goldwater Institute’s dislike of spending rollovers?

Here’s the frightening part: To “Fast Eddie” Farnsworth and his pals, that’s a really tough question.

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