Just Another Empty, Feel-Good Set of Remarks

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Just Another Empty, Feel-Good Set of Remarks

As of this past Saturday, seven months had passed since President Bush delivered a prime-time speech to the nation from New Orleans. That evening, Bush made these statements:

Within the Gulf region are some of the most beautiful and historic places in America. As all of us saw on television, there's also some deep, persistent poverty in this region, as well. That poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America.

We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action.
By using the word "we," I'm assuming that Bush feels he shares this duty. So, after seven long months, what truly "bold action" has the Bush administration taken?

None that I'm aware of.

Yes, I know that on that evening Bush made a few proposals -- one of them was a "Gulf Opportunity Zone." This, of course, is a warmed-over version of the "enterprise zone" concept that conservatives first proposed decades ago. Nothing new or bold there.

Another one of the proposals from Bush's speech was this one:

I propose the creation of Worker Recovery Accounts .... Under this plan, the federal government would provide accounts of up to $5,000, which these evacuees could draw upon for job training and education to help them get a good job, and for child care expenses during their job search.
But $5,000 won't even cover the average cost of in-state tuition at a four-year public university. And $5,000 falls short of covering the average annual day care costs for a single child.

I'm not suggesting that it's a simple task to break the cycle of poverty. It isn't.

And I'm not suggesting that there's a whole lot Bush could do about poverty right now. The crises of Iraq and Iran make it hard to launch a major domestic initiative and the budget deficit weighs against a major new funding program.

But it annoys me when Bush or other political figures pretend they give a rat's ass about poverty, speak of "bold action" and then only offer policy band-aids.

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