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NCLB Outrages

One Bush Left Behind

by Greg Palast

Hereâs your question, class:

In his State of the Union, the President asked Congress for $300 million for poor kids in the inner city. As there are, officially, 15 million children in America living in poverty, how much is that per child? Correct! $20.

Hereâs your second question. The President also demanded that Congress extend his tax cuts. The cost: $4.3 trillion over ten years. The big recipients are millionaires. And the number of millionaires happens, not coincidentally, to equal the number of poor kids, roughly 15 million of them. OK class: what is the cost of the tax cut per millionaire? Thatâs right, Richie, $287,000 apiece.

Mr. Bush said, âIn neighborhoods across our country, there are boys and girls with dreams. And a decent education is their only hope of achieving them.â

So how much educational dreaming will $20 buy?

-George Bushâs alma mater, Phillips Andover Academy, tells us their annual tuition is $37,200. The $20 âPell Grant for Kids,â as the White House calls it, will buy a poor kid about 35 minutes of this educational dream. So theyâll have to wake up quickly.

-$20 wonât cover the cost of the final book in the Harry Potter series.

If you canât buy a book nor pay tuition with a sawbuck, what exactly can a poor kid buy with $20 in urban America? The Palast Investigative Team donned baseball caps and big pants and discovered we could obtain what local citizens call a ârockâ of crack cocaine. For $20, we were guaranteed we could fulfill any kidâs dream for at least 15 minutes.

Now we could see the incontrovertible logic in what appeared to be quixotic ravings by the President about free trade with Colombia, Pell Grant for Kids and the surge in Iraq. In Iraq, General Petraeus tells us we must continue to feed in troops for another ten years. There is no way the military can recruit these freedom fighters unless our lower income youth are high, hooked and desperate. Donât say, âcrack vials,â theyâre, âDemocracy Rocksâ!

The plan would have been clearer if Mr. Bush had kept in his speech the line from his original draft which read, âI have ordered 30,000 additional troops to Iraq this year â and I am proud to say my military-age kids are not among them.â

Of course, thereâs an effective alternative to Mr. Bushâs plan â which wonât cost a penny more. Simply turn it upside down. Letâs give each millionaire in America a $20 bill, and every poor child $287,000.

And, thereâs an added benefit to this alternative. Had we turned Mr. Bush and his plan upside down, he could have spoken to Congress from his heart.

— Greg Palast


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