President George W. Bush on Wednesday vetoed legislation expanding a health care program mostly aimed at poor children, a politically risky move ahead of the November 2008 elections.
The president’s Democratic foes, unable to curtail the unpopular war in Iraq, have seized on his opposition to their plan to build up the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) as a potent political weapon.
If President Bush had a history of opposing big government and big spending, his choice of a child health insurance bill for only the fourth veto of his presidency might be more understandable.
But he has calmly presided over the largest increase in spending and the creation of the largest government entitlement — prescription drugs — since the Great Society. It is probably not far off to say his abrupt conversion to limited government and fiscal prudence has everything to do with the Democrats now being in charge of Congress.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost at least $190 billion in 2008, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, making it the most expensive year in the conflicts since they were launched by President George W. Bush.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked Congress to approve the funding after Bush this month beat back demands from Democrats for a quick end to the Iraq war and said the U.S. presence there would go on after he leaves office in 2009.
President Bush is banking on Americans’ short memories and the fact that most of them, having real lives, are not terribly engrossed in the congressional budget process.
That explains his brazenness in denouncing this Democratic-run Congress for failing to pass all or even most of the 12 funding bills for the government by the Sept. 30 deadline.
The Democrats complain that Bush, who couldn’t be prodded into vetoing anything when the Republicans were running Congress, is now threatening to veto 10 of these bills if they are passed.
A leading Democratic lawmaker on Tuesday accused Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of interfering in congressional inquiries into corruption in Iraq’s government and the activities of U.S. security firm Blackwater.
Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman said State Department officials had told the Oversight and Government Reform Committee he chairs they could not provide details of corruption in Iraq’s government unless the information was treated as a “state secret” and not revealed to the public.
US Vice President Richard Cheney has considered provoking an exchange of military strikes between Iran and Israel in order to give the United States a pretext to attack Iran, Newsweek magazine reported in its Monday issue.
But the weekly said the steady departure of neoconservatives from the administration over the past two years had helped tilt the balance away from war.
One official who pushed a particularly hawkish line on Iran was David Wurmser, who had served since 2003 as Cheney’s Middle East adviser, the report said.
President Bush on Thursday refused to criticize a U.S. security company in Iraq accused in a shooting that left 11 civilians dead, saying investigators need to determine if the guards violated rules governing their operations.
Bush said he expected Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki would raise the shooting by agents of Blackwater USA when they meet next week at the U.N. General Assembly.
President George W. Bush insisted on Thursday he will be a “strong asset” for Republicans battling for election in 2008, despite shaky opinion poll ratings born of a tumultuous presidency.
Bush, who has 16 months left in his second term, laid out a battle-plan for 2008 Republican candidates, based on a robust ‘war on terror’ policy, support for Iraq and low taxes.
“Strong asset,” Bush said emphatically, when asked at a White House news conference whether he would be an asset or liability for Republicans in presidential and congressional elections next year.
Sen. Charles Schumer, the liberal Democrat from New York, raised the hackles and suspicions of Republican conservatives when he spoke warmly of Michael Mukasey, President Bush’s choice to be U.S. attorney general, and said the former judge had the potential to be “a consensus nominee.”
If you are president of the United States, there must be many days when you wish you had stayed in bed. That has to be occurring more frequently for George W. Bush as his tenure in office draws slowly — perhaps all too so for him — to an end.