L. J. “Gonzo” Furman.
Washington. President Bush found his stride. He has a terrific career ahead of him on late night cable tv news, or Comedy Central. He may not have the physical presence of Will Ferrell, or the ‘kick them when they’re down’, ‘laughing at you not with you’ sensibility of Steven Colbert or David Letterman, but his timing and deadpan style rivals Jon Stewart, Tina Fey, Jay Leno and the other great news anchors of late night television. His ‘State of Duh Union‘ was brilliant. Bush, with his zany sidekicks, Dick ‘I-Shot-The-Lawyer’ Cheney and Karl ‘I-Don’t-Care-If-It’s-A-Felony, I’m-Not-Quitting’ Rove should star in ‘The Compassionate Conservative’ on cable with ‘The Daily Show and ‘The Colbert Report’.
With energy policy Bush started by playing it straight: ‘Energy policy is a matter of national security.’ Solar energy and wind power produce electricity without pollution, and at lower cost. But this is boring so Bush didn’t talk about this. He did say that we should double the amount of petroleum the government stores in reserve and drill for oil in the Arctic Refuge. Some say the petroleum reserves are a government handout to the oil industry. Because the government buys oil, and then locks it up never to use it, until an emergency. And in an emergency, we need more than we have in reserve, so the government buys more, usually at higher prices. Does this sound like a good deal for the taxpayers or a handout to the oil industry?
Now Bush wants to double the reserves, and drill for oil in the Arctic Refuge. We can combine these goals by using the Arctic Oil as the Reserves. Normally, to create the reserves we take oil out of the ground, ship it, refine it, spill some, then put it in tanks, never to use it.
So why not keep the oil up in the Artic Refuge for the reserves and just leave it in the ground, without the drilling, refining, spilling and storage steps. The government should just pay the oil companies to leave the oil in the ground. Of course the oil companies are supposed to be paying the government royalties on the oil they extract, but the accountants can sort out the details. The important thing is to have the oil in reserve and increase return on investment for the oil companies.
Then there’s health care. The President wants health insurance premiums to be tax deductible. So wealthy people who pay more for health care, because they can, can write off the cost of their insurance. This is fair to wealthy people. Poor people, who are poor because they have no money, don’t need to write off the cost of their health insurance premium. They don’t pay for health insurance. (They don’t have it, but that’s beside the point.) They don’t pay income tax. President Bush is only trying to give wealthy people the same advantages that poor people have.
The President also wants to tax health care benefits. This sounds great. If I am hospitalized, then I will pay income tax on the money the insurance company paid the doctors and the hospital. If I am making about $65,000 per year, and my wife has a baby, and the hospital charges about $35,000, then I’ll be taxed as if I made $100,000. When my kid goes to the doctor I’ll pay more taxes. Who needs a raise? I can just go to the doctor. Then when I feel like a million bucks the government will feel like I’m worth a million bucks too.
The President wants to reduce the number of uninsured by shifting federal money away from hospitals. I see how this will reduce the number of uninsured – they will die.
The President wants to let poor children transfer to private schools. Private schools charge tuition. I thought that poor children are poor because they have no money. I must be missing something.
Bush wants to give his plan for Iraq a chance. I admire that. When I want a game of chance I go to Atlantic City or Vegas. I lose, but what the hell. When Bush wants a game of chance he goes to war. That’s tough. And he calls himself a compassionate conservative.