Guns vs. Peanut Butter

The Bush Saturday radio address is full of the typical deception and smear tactics that are this administration’s hallmark. I find the following argument notable:

The Democrats loaded up their bills with billions of dollars in domestic spending completely unrelated to the war, including $3.5 million for visitors to tour the Capitol, $6.4 million for the House of Representatives’ Salaries and Expenses Account, and $74 million for secure peanut storage. I like peanuts as much as the next guy, but I believe the security of our troops should come before the security of our peanut crop. For all these reasons, that is why I made it clear to the Democrats in Congress, I will veto the bill.

What I find striking in this radio address is that Bush seems to be placing more emphasis on the special interest spending in the budget bills than on the fact that the bills set a deadline for withdrawal from Iraq. We may be at the point where the president’s political people realize that the public solidly backs getting the troops out of there and that they need a different angle to justify the veto that keeps the deadline from becoming law.

It’s quite the coincidence that after six-plus years in office, Bush is only now threatening a veto on grounds of excessive pork projects. He’s had a long time to take this stance before, and it looks a lot like mere rhetorical cover for his real objective of prolonging the US military involvement in Iraq indefinitely. If Bush really wants to take on the powerful agricultural lobby, that’s fantastic, but he will have to do more than just veto this bill and blame Democrats for a few stupid-sounding line items to sound sincere.

The second half of the address claims that, “Democrats would raise taxes by a total of nearly $400 billion over the next five years,” because they refuse to renew Bush’s ill-conceived tax cuts that passed during the first term. It’s creative framing to say that not extending tax cuts is a tax increase, and it reminds me of the debate in the mid-1990s over whether slowing the rate of growth of Medicare spending amounted to a “cut.”

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