A LOT OF AMERICANS JUST DON’T GET IT!!

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A LOT OF AMERICANS JUST DON’T GET IT!!

Steve Dasbach, National Director of the Libertarian Party – 2001-05-07

To celebrate President George W. Bush’s first 100 days in office, let’s conduct a modest thought experiment, shall we?

Imagine, if you will, that you were whisked out of the country on November 7, 2000, as the outcome of the presidential election hung in the balance. Imagine that for the past six months, you’ve had no access to any news source. No newspapers. No TV. No Internet. No political discussion with friends. Now, imagine that on Sunday, April 29 – exactly 100 days after the new president was inaugurated — you were plunked down in front of a television as the usual crew of talking-head pundits debated the new administration’s record.

If those pundits didn’t mention the president’s name, would you know whether Bush or Gore had won the election? “What a foolish question!” most Republicans and Democrats will sputter. “Bush and Gore are as different as, well – Bush and Gore. Their records after 100 days would be so utterly and so radically different that no one could confuse them!”

Really? If that is the case, take this quick 12-question quiz to see how different the Bush administration has been from the could-have-been Gore administration:

1) If elected president, which one – Bush or Gore – would boost spending for Bill Clinton’s AmeriCorps program by $282 million?

[ ] Al Gore
[ ] George W. Bush

ANSWER: George W. Bush. Some conservatives had predicted that Bill Clinton’s “domestic Peace Corps” program would be quickly abolished, but, instead, Bush has requested a funding increase of $282 million. [Source: USA Today, April 10, 2001]

2) Which one would continue the Clinton administration’s lawsuit against tobacco companies?

[ ] George W. Bush
[ ] Al Gore

ANSWER: George W. Bush. Not only is the Bush administration not ending the legalized extortion against the tobacco companies, Attorney General John Ashcroft boasted that the Justice Department plans to spend as much as Janet Reno did to proceed with the suit. [Source: The Washington Times, April 27, 2001]

3) Which one would increase federal spending on elementary and secondary education by a whopping 72%?

[ ] Al Gore
[ ] George W. Bush

ANSWER: George W. Bush. Although Republicans had previously promised to abolish the federal Department of Education, Bush requested $18.6 billion Gore in spending for elementary, secondary, and vocational education – a 72% increase. [Source: USA Today, April 10, 2001]

4) Which one would maintain the so-called “Gore Tax” – a hidden $2.3 billion-a-year levy on telephone bills, used to wire schools to the Internet?

[ ] George W. Bush
[ ] Al Gore

ANSWER: George W. Bush. Three years ago, conservatives blasted the “Gore Tax” as an unconstitutional tax, since it was imposed by the Federal Communications Commission. But instead of repealing it, the Bush administration has been working to halt any attempts to limit it. [Source: Cato Institute Daily Commentary, April 9, 2001]

5) Which one would request a 3.6% pay hike for all federal workers?

[ ] Al Gore
[ ] George W. Bush

ANSWER: George W. Bush. The average federal civilian employee already makes $50,000 a year – but Bush doesn’t think that’s enough. His pay- hike proposal would increase federal wages even faster than inflation. [Source: The Washington Post, April 10, 2001]

6) Which one would impose by White House decree the Clinton administration’s medical “privacy” rules – which give control of American medical records to the government?

[ ] George W. Bush
[ ] Al Gore

ANSWER: George W. Bush. After Clinton proposed his so-called “privacy” rules, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services was flooded with 24,000 letters opposing them. In response, Bush ordered the HHS to disregard the public comments, and implement the rules immediately. [Source: The Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2001]

7) Which one would boost spending on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting by $10 million?

[ ] Al Gore
[ ] George W. Bush

ANSWER: George W. Bush. For years, conservatives have asked why the federal government funds a radio network with tax dollars, since tens of thousands of free-market stations compete for listeners. Bush’s response was to request a $10 million funding increase. [Source: USA Today, April 10, 2001]

8) Which one would bar development on privately owned wetlands, and promised environmental policies that will “continue and complete the work of [the Clinton] administration”?

[ ] George W. Bush
[ ] Al Gore

ANSWER: George W. Bush. Here, surely, there’s a difference between Bush and Gore! Not as much as you might think. Not only did Bush refuse to overturn a Clinton-era ban on wetlands development, he boasted he would continue the Democrat’s environmental programs since “this is the way environmental policy should work.” [Source: Syndicated columnist Robert Novak, April 26, 2001]

9) Which one would vow a “renewed commitment” to enforcing America’s 20,000 gun laws, and budget an additional $158 million for that purpose?

[ ] Al Gore
[ ] George W. Bush

ANSWER: George W. Bush. And you thought Al Gore was anti-gun? Attorney General John Ashcroft said there was “no question” the Bush administration needs a “renewed commitment” to enforce America’s myriad anti-gun laws, and has requested $158 million more for that purpose. [Source: The Washington Times, April 27, 2001]

10) Which one would spend an additional $46 billion on a new federal program to give low-cost prescription drugs to seniors?

[ ] George W. Bush
[ ] Al Gore

ANSWER: George W. Bush. During the campaign, both Bush and Gore promised to dramatically increase the role of the federal government in the prescription dug business. The cost to taxpayers of Bush’s program: $46 billion over five years. [Source: Associated Press, April 27, 2001]

11) Which one would delay any effort to privatize Social Security retirement accounts for younger workers by deferring it to a federal commission for more study?

[ ] Al Gore
[ ] George W. Bush

ANSWER: George W. Bush. As a candidate, Bush made the partial privatization of Social Security a cornerstone of his campaign. But as president, he has drop-kicked that potential hot potato to a federal commission for “study.” [Source: Associated Press, April 27, 2001]

12) Which one would give the IRS more money so it can hire 4,000 additional tax collectors?

[ ] George W. Bush
[ ] Al Gore

ANSWER: George W. Bush. At Congressional hearings in 1998, Republicans harshly criticized the Internal Revenue Service for mistreating taxpayers and running roughshod over the law. Three years later, Bush has proposed a $400 million budget increase for the agency. [Source: USA Today, April 16, 2001]

Shocked by the answers? Perhaps you shouldn’t be, since President Bush made it clear – even during his days as a candidate – that making the federal government smaller, less expensive, or less intrusive was not on his agenda. Given that, is it a surprise that he is governing like Al Gore?

In fact, after looking at the record of President Bush’s first 100 days, there’s really only one thought experiment question left to ask: Why was the outcome of the 2000 presidential election so fiercely contested – since it seems to have made no real difference who won?

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