Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Prudent President

The compassionate conservative who ran in 2000 lost his empathy on the way to the White House but, after years of spending for wars and tax cuts for the wealthy, is belatedly rediscovering his fiscal prudence--about health insurance for children, school aid and public housing.

Bush's latest act of compassionate conservatism is to deny funding for the Social Security Administration that would cut delay of financial aid to the disabled, many of whom now have to wait years to have their claims adjudicated.

As a New York Times editorial points out today, "the backlog of applicants who are awaiting a decision after appealing an initial rejection has soared to 755,000 from 311,000 in 2000. The average wait for an appeals hearing now exceeds 500 days, twice as long as applicants had to wait in 2000.

"Typically two-thirds of those who appeal eventually win their cases. But during the long wait, their conditions may worsen and their lives often fall apart. More and more people have lost their homes, declared bankruptcy or even died while awaiting an appeals hearing."

After Congress last month passed a bill to give Social Security $275 million more than he requested, enough to hire judges to speed up the process, the President vetoed as profligate an amount that wouldn't pay for a day of the war in Iraq.

What would America be like if we had elected an unfeeling liberal (as many disaffected Democrats believe we actually did) in 2000 rather than the compassionate conservative who is setting our priorities now?

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