With the passage of his irresponsible tax-cutting budget bill, George W. Bush once again demonstrated the clout of a president in “wartime” as well as the formidable political focus of his administration. Squabbling among Republicans in the House and Senate over the size of the tax cuts threatened to stall or even derail the bill. Bush, with his eye firmly on the 2004 presidential election, set a deadline for Republicans to make up, insisting that the budget be passed before Memorial Day. Recalcitrant Republicans were reminded that opposing the president is unpatriotic-that’s something Democrats do. And they were also reminded that George W. Bush’s extraordinary popularity might presage a historic political realignment, come November 2004. With Democrats on the defensive, now is no time for internal bickering.

Although the tax cuts were less than half what the president had proposed, Bush had no problem claiming victory for the so-called jobs-and-growth package, which according to some experts is still likely to cost the federal government $800 billion in lost revenues over the next ten years. That fits Bush’s political agenda perfectly. By starving the federal government of tax revenue, the budget will force a future president to choose between raising taxes or curtailing services and programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Instead of attacking popular federal social programs, the idea is to kill them...

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