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Don't Be Fooled By Bush And Cheney
Published on Saturday, November 4, 2000
Don't Be Fooled By Bush And Cheney
by Holly Sklar
When the last George Bush left the White House, the unemployment rate was nearly twice as high as it is now and the typical household's income was $4,400 less, adjusting for inflation. Before you're ready to put his son George W. in the White House, check out where Texas leads the nation, and where it lags.

Texas is No. 1 in air pollution and No. 2 in people without health insurance. Nearly one out of four Texans is uninsured.

Debater Bush took credit for the Texas Patient Bill of Rights. Governor Bush tried to block it.

Texas is No. 1 in toxic releases to the environment and No. 1 in toxic chemical accidents. Bush likes voluntary pollution controls and wants to keep studying global warming, rather than do anything about it.

Texas is No. 6 in poverty and No. 44 in homeownership; 34 states have lower unemployment rates.

Texas is No. 1 in prison population and No. 38 in college enrollment. It's No. 1 in executions. In January, the pro-death penalty Republican governor of Illinois issued a moratorium on executions because the system was "fraught with error and has innumerable opportunities for innocent people to be executed."

A new report, reviewing hundreds of cases, says the death penalty in Texas is riddled with racial bias, incompetent defense lawyers and prosecutorial misconduct, including falsifying evidence. Bush doesn't think there's a problem.

Bush pushed for legislation allowing Texans to carry concealed handguns--even into churches and hospitals. A Los Angeles Times investigation found that "since the law took effect, the state has licensed hundreds of people with prior criminal convictions--including rape and armed robbery--and histories of violence, psychological disorders and drug or alcohol problems." More than 3,000 other licensees have since been arrested, including for murder.

NRA Vice President Kayne Robinson has said that in Bush, "We'll have a President...where we work out of their office." The federal assault weapons ban is up for reauthorization during the next president's term.

Bush's record as a businessman is nothing to be proud of. As Texas journalists Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose show in their funny, informative book, "Shrub," Bush had a habit of losing other people's money in the oil business while walking away with money himself.

Bush made his really big money thanks to corporate welfare for the Texas Rangers baseball team. Bush and 70 other investors paid $83 million to buy the team. Bush put up $640,000. Ivins and Dubose write, "The team increased its book value from $83 million to $138 million by convincing the city of Arlington there would be no more baseball unless local taxpayers sprang for a new stadium."

The people of Arlington got a higher sales tax. Bush got rich. In 1998, he cashed in his share of the team for $15.4 million, an amount 24 times higher than his initial investment.

Bush and his wife made $1.6 million in income last year. He's got a big stake in his big tax cut. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, Bush's tax plans would provide an average tax cut of $42 to the bottom fifth of Americans and an average $46,072 to the top 1 percent group the Bushes are in. There's nothing fuzzy about that scuzzy math.

Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition is counting on Bush to appoint judges to the Supreme Court who will support a rightwing agenda like Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, Bush's favorite justices. Remember, Supreme Court appointments are for life.

Bush's running mate, multimillionaire oilman Dick Cheney, has done an even better job at pretending he's a "compassionate conservative" than Bush has. While in Congress, Cheney often voted to the right of conservative hardliners like Newt Gingrich.

Cheney consistently voted against environmental legislation, including the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Superfund program to clean up toxic waste. He voted against the most commonsense gun control, including the banning of armor-piercing ammunition. He was one of only four votes against banning plastic guns that can evade metal detectors. He voted against abortion even to save the life of the mother. He voted against Head Start and the Meals-on-Wheels program for seniors.

Look closely before you leap with Bush and Cheney.

Holly Sklar is co-author of "Shifting Fortunes: The Perils of the Growing American Wealth Gap." Readers may write to her at


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