News & Politics

George W. Whacks Aid For Military Kids

If cynicism was a planet, the Bush adminstration would be Jupiter, the biggest of all.
If cynicism were a planet, the Bush administration would be Jupiter, the biggest of all.

These people have turned cynicism into political art, routinely claiming in public to be supportive of children, education, veterans, and other popular constituencies, while maneuvering in the back rooms to gut budgets and programs that support these very constituencies. An especially disgusting example is Bush's recent gut job on the program that provides essential school aid for the children of our troops.

Yes, the very troops that he has put at ultimate risk to fulfill his war and oil fantasies in Iraq. In February, as gung-ho George was rallying the troops to go face death, his budget leaders were quietly pushing a plan to slash funding for a vital education program called Impact Aid. Created during the Truman years, this is a tried and true program that provides extra funding to local school districts that serve areas with large military bases.

These school districts are hit with a triple economic whammy -- first, the land of the military base is exempt from property taxes needed to fund local schools; second, the schools are obligated to serve the military children; and third, these children often have special needs, including counseling when mom or dad are about to be sent off to war.

Yet, at a time when school budgets are already stretched beyond thin, and at a time when we ought to be reaching out to support military families -- our "compassionate conservative" commander-in-chief wants to whack Impact Aid by more than half. For example, the Virginia Beach school district, which serves several military bases, would have its aid cut from $12 million a year to $4.5 million under George's plan. The local school superintendent told New York Times columnist Bob Herbert: "That would be fairly devastating for us."

It also is devastating to our nation's democratic principles of fairness and justice, which are the very values that George says he wants to extend to Iraq.