Bush's conservative agenda


During the presidential campaign, George W. Bush made a series of promises to appease the moderates who might have otherwise voted for Gore. Now that the buzz surrounding his first 100 days in office has subsided, we can reasonably evaluate whether these promises have been kept.


On the environment, Bush promised to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and to budget $100 million per year for rain forest preservation. Both promises have been broken. Furthermore, Bush infuriated our allies by refusing to honor the Kyoto treaty to prevent global warming. "I'm for clean air and water," Bush had said. Yet he blocks legislation to reduce arsenic in our drinking water and to prevent runoff from animal feeding operations.


Despite promises to keep America out of foreign conflicts, Bush now says we may wage war against China to protect the interests of Taiwan.


Bush promised to support a "patients' rights" bill but now says he will veto any such pending legislation. He pledged to provide help to the uninsured yet has cut funding for that purpose by $120 million. His guarantee of prescription drug coverage for seniors is nary a blip on the radar, after Dick Cheney cast a tie-breaking vote to defeat such a plan in the Senate.


"Leave no child behind," we were told during the campaign. Yet his budget slashed funding for child-care grants, child abuse programs and juvenile delinquency prevention. All funding for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Reading Is Fundamental has been eliminated. Funding for abstinence education failed to meet promised levels.


Other promises -- to reform Social Security, to increase military spending, and to support faith-based organizations -- apparently will have to wait for the next budget cycle. But don't worry; his plan for a huge tax cut, primarily for the wealthy, is still mostly intact.


Granted, broken campaign promises are hardly rare. But one might expect a president who failed to win the popular vote to give us some small assurances that he values the public good over corporate and special interests.


It's no surprise that Bush has survived his first 100 days relatively unscathed. His advisors carefully script his actions and otherwise keep him safely out of public view. What's amazing is that he's managed to maintain the illusion of integrity while utterly failing to keep his word, to feign bipartisanship while excluding Democrats from all meaningful legislative activity, and to pledge centrism while pursuing the most radically conservative agenda in nearly a century.


Geoff Trowbridge The Elkhart Truth, 5/3/2001