Sunday, February 06, 2005

Redistribution of Wealth 

Earlier today the Associated Press reported that:
President Bush's budget will propose slashing grants to local law enforcement agencies and cutting spending for environmental protection, American Indian schools and home-heating aid for the poor, the Associated Press learned yesterday.
And tonight we learn from the New York Times that:
President Bush's budget would more than double the co-payment charged to many veterans for prescription drugs and would require some to pay a new fee of $250 a year for the privilege of using government health care, administration officials said Sunday . . . .

[Richard B. Fuller, legislative director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America,] added that the budget would force veterans hospitals and clinics to limit services. "We are already seeing an increase in waiting lists, even for some Iraq veterans," he said.

In Michigan, for example, thousands of veterans are on waiting lists for medical services, and some reservists returning from Iraq say they have been unable to obtain the care they were promised. A veterans clinic in Pontiac, Mich., put a limit on new enrollment. Cutbacks at a veterans hospital in Altoona, Pa., are forcing some veterans to seek treatment elsewhere . . . .

The budget also advances previously announced plans to close or scale back some veterans hospitals. Money spent on underused buildings and excess land could be better spent providing care to veterans, the agency said.
Dick Cheney, meanwhile, spent most of the day explaining that our government will fund the President's harebrained scheme to privatize Social Security by going trillions of dollars deeper into debt; in Josh Marshall's paraphrase, privatization "will cost -- by their own estimation -- much more over the next 20 years than it would to keep Social Security going strong for the next 75 years." The Veep did, however, take a moment out to address the concerns of troubled veterans:
Mr. Cheney said the White House had judiciously identified scores of domestic programs to be cut or eliminated. "It's not something we've done with a meat ax, nor are we suddenly turning our backs on the most needy people in our society."
The key word in that formulation, as you have no doubt guessed, is suddenly.

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