Bush Leaves Children Behind
January 13, 2003, 1:00am

It has long been understood that the only way to create a fair society
is to give each child an equal chance at success … The Bush administration
understands this rhetoric, and even stole the Children Defense Fund’s
“Leave No Child Behind” motto for last year’s education
bill. However, as the Children Defense Fund’s website points out,
Bush’s policies would more appropriately be entitled, “Leave
No Millionaire Behind.” Bush has done more than any president
in our history to ensure that poor children never rise out of poverty.

cynical is this? Last year, Bush held a major signing ceremony where
he took full credit for his own No Child Left Behind Act. And then,
just a few days ago, on the anniversary of the act, Bush again praised
himself for what he called “the most meaningful education reform,
probably ever.” What he failed to point out at that press conference
is that his new budget strips the bill of nearly all of its authorized
increases for education spending to help children, especially the
low-income children forced to attend low-performing schools that
need the money the most. While the signing of the bill got front
page coverage in every major newspaper for the gains made in education
spending and policy, Bush’s recent cuts have been buried in small
articles in the back pages. It is this cynical strategy that Bush
has repeatedly employed – he is counting on us not to notice the
details, the substance and the truth behind the rhetoric. The truth
is that Bush’s proposed budget for this fiscal year cuts $7.1
billion from the No Child Left Behind Act
, all of that coming
out of the program designed to help children from low-income homes.
So in fact, low-income children will not actually be helped by this
“significant and meaningful legislation” after all. So
why doesn’t the press talk about the details?

And where
is that $7.1 billion that was supposed to be spent on education
for low-income children going? To tax cuts for the rich…Under
Bush’s costly 2001 tax cut, over a ten year period more than half
of the $1.3 trillion cuts will be pocketed by the richest 1% – that’s
almost half a trillion dollars! And now, taking advantage of the
public’s desire for the president to do something about our country’s
economic problems, Bush not only proposes to make that tax cut permanent,
but to create an additional tax cut for stockholders that will cost
$600 billion over a period of time, with few immediate benefits
to help people struggling through a recession. Undoubtedly, it’s
poor families and children that will have to take the burden of
these benefits so clearly targeted to the wealthy, as state and
federal social programs continue to be cut due to a rising deficit
and a seemingly inevitable war.

should we be surprised? As governor of Texas, Bush took the state’s
largest surplus and turned it into a budget shortfall by giving
tax breaks to his rich friends and supporters. Meanwhile, he left
one million children without school lunches by simply failing to
implement the $33 million federal school nutrition program. A leopard
doesn’t change his spots. Though he may put on a good show, Bush
as president, like Bush as governor, just wants to reward his rich
contributors and doesn’t care about the children he’s leaving behind.