- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Cost of doing business

Distancing himself from earlier vows by the White House to slash "pork" from the federal budget, budget office Director Mitch Daniels described spending bills loaded with home-district projects as an "acceptable cost of doing business with Congress."

In an interview published in yesterday's USA Today, Mr. Daniels said the White House could live with these projects as long as they did not exceed President Bush's spending limits for fiscal 2002.

The House has passed only three of the 13 annual spending bills that finance government operations, but "Congress has performed very, very well so far" in trying to limit the increase from the current fiscal year to $26 billion, or 4 percent, as the president wants, Mr. Daniels told the newspaper.

Lawmakers have largely substituted their pet projects for spending that Mr. Bush would have left to the discretion of federal and state agencies. The local projects limit the ability of the federal government to set national priorities, Mr. Daniels said.

"It may not be good government, but if they do it within the totals we've agreed on, it's an acceptable cost of doing business," he said.

Mr. Daniels isto testify tomorrow before the Democratic-led Senate Budget Committee.

Blaming tax cuts

"The left is on the political warpath," charging that the government is headed for budget deficits because of the Bush tax cuts, writes economist Stephen Moore, president of the Club for Growth.

"The strategy of Tom Daschle et. al., is to run spending through the roof (with the complicit aid of a lot of big-spending congressional Republicans), then to blame George W. Bush for imperiling Social Security with his 'giant tax cut,'" Mr. Moore said at nationalreview.com.

"Hold on here. How can the tax cut be blamed for slow economic growth and shrinking surpluses when we haven't even gotten a dime of tax cuts yet? This is like blaming rain on umbrellas."

There is, in fact, no drought in revenue the budget surplus this year will be at least $150 billion, Mr. Moore said.

"But there is gluttony on the spending side of the budget ledger. In fact, over the past three years Congress has been on the most expensive shopping spree in Washington since LBJ was in the White House. Last year federal appropriations rocketed skyward by almost 9 percent. (This was in a year with negligible inflation.) This year, I've been predicting a 7 percent growth rate in spending. …

"Yes, Virginia, there is a budget emergency in Washington. It's called spending."

A clever game

President Bush's ideological foes in the media, who have been writing the administration's obituary because Mr. Bush's poll ratings have fallen to about 50 percent, "are engaged in a clever game that you might call 'defining political illegitimacy down,'" John Podhoretz writes in the New York Post.

"His declining poll numbers are not merely snapshots of a presidency and a nation in the midst of economic uncertainty. Oh, no, say the pundits: They are reports from the front lines of national public opinion, which has already made up its mind that Bush favors the rich, hates the environment and wants to line the pockets of evil oil companies," Mr. Podhoretz said.

"Sound familiar? It should, because it's the Gore-campaign line on Bush updated to the summer of 2001. The pro-Gore pundits are, in effect, declaring Bush's presidency illegitimate because a) one very liberal Republican senator from Vermont decided to switch parties and b) Bush's poll numbers aren't as high as Bill Clinton's were during the two-year period when the U.S. economy was the strongest the world had ever seen.

"But there's something more pernicious going on here. For the effort to delegitimize Bush is, more profoundly, an effort to delegitimize conservative ideas by declaring them 'beyond the mainstream' a form of political combat that stifles debate, poisons serious discourse and does violence to the truth."

Left in a pickle

"The political distress and moral agony now burdening President Bush on the issue of stem-cell research could have been avoided," Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.

"All Bush had to do was take the advice of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in the first days of his administration. The bishops urged him to implement immediately his campaign promise to bar federal funding for stem-cell research that destroys human embryos. It would have sparked yipes of outrage, but it would have been a one-day story, not a firestorm but a flicker," Mr. Barnes said.

"But Bush temporized, then temporized some more. This has allowed a massive effort to spring up in favor of federal sponsorship of research using human embryos an effort heavily promoted by the national media. Bush was left in a pickle: He must either flip-flop on a moral issue and anger his conservative supporters or reach a decision consistent with his campaign promise and get whacked in the press."

Caviar and brie

"Spoiled rich girl Karenna Gore Schiff still hasn't gotten over daddy's lost election," Debbie Schlussel writes at WorldNetDaily.com.

"In the August issue of Glamour that fine supermarket checkout-aisle publication we're treated to her two-page whining screed to fellow liberal sore losers across America," Miss Schlussel writes.

"On newsstands today, 'Karenna Gore Schiff's Guide to Not Getting Bush-Whacked: Al Gore's "First Daughter" Tells You How to Make George W.'s Term a Lot Less Scary' reads more like 'Karenna's Guide to Limousine Liberalism for Hypocrites: Al Gore's Sour Grapes Daughter Prepares You for Her Scary Future Run for Office.' …

"Amidst ads for thong panty-liners and surveys asking 'Should you be as wild as you want to be ?' Karenna writes of 'working moms' and complains about Washington's influence over 'our paychecks.' Huh? Karenna doesn't earn one and doesn't work. Married into the multimillionaire Schiff Family, Karenna lounges around her swanky $3 million apartment in Manhattan's wealthiest, toniest neighborhood. Maybe next she'll lecture us about virtues of public education. Oops! She didn't live that experience either. When Karenna talks of 'the vexing challenge of finding a balance between work and family,' we know she's watched too many movies on Lifetime. Puh-leeze. After spending her life partying with MTV glitterati and New York socialites, the only thing this woman has balanced is caviar and brie … and maybe her fat checkbook."

Freudian slip?

The New York Times published a correction yesterday concerning the Bush administration policy on oil drilling. And just to make sure nobody missed it, the Interior Department issued a press release quoting that correction entirely. Here it is:

"Because of an editing error, an article on Friday about drilling for oil and gas under the Great Lakes misstated a part of the Bush administration's plan for energy exploration. The administration is not 'calling for increased domestic drilling everywhere.' Its recent energy plan calls for the Interior Department to identify suitable public lands for new oil and gas exploration. Drilling in the Great Lakes is not part of the plan."

Visit to the Capitol

President Bush will meet this morning with House Republicans at the Capitol to make a more personal plea for Congress to renew its work on his legislative agenda.

Mr. Bush is expected to make a pitch for his plan to allow religious organizations to compete for federal grants to deliver social services, and to complete work on his education program and a patients' rights bill.

On Monday, the president called on Congress "to not get stuck in the process" of endless debate.

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