The Hightower Lowdown

George W. wants you to get a job, but won't pay for training; and, like his father, he's trying to get us into another oil war; also, drug companies use cash to get your doctor's recommendation.

Bush's Bait-and-Switch

George W. is proving to be a master of the political bait-and-switch scam, saying one thing for political gain then quietly switching to an entirely different position in his budget proposals.

In January's State of the Union speech, Bush declared that his No. 1 economic priority was "jobs," adding with a rhetorical flourish that "when America works, America prospers." Indeed, with the high tech bust, with more corporations moving our jobs offshore, with the job-crash following September 11's terrorist attack, and with job-busting finagling by top executives of outfits like Enron, the number of unemployed Americans has risen by 40% in the past year, and job programs are needed more than ever, so Bush's rhetoric was on target.

Two weeks later, however, came his budget, which is where a president's real priorities are written in ink. Far from pushing jobs, George whacked the meager job-training budgets already on the books, particularly for programs to help those most in need today -- laid-off workers and young adults.

For example, "youth opportunity centers" are effective training and job-search programs that help move young people from poverty to work, and Bush even visited one in Portland, Ore., just days before his State of the Union speech. He lauded the program and got his picture taken with trainees, but back in Washington, he took the ax to these centers, chopping 80% of their funding!

Adding insult to injury, Bush & Co. are lying about what they're doing, asserting that while some programs are being cut, they're increasing the total money going to job training. But, as The New York Times found, the Bushites are counting federal job funds sent to the states this year as new money for next year, even though that money has already been spent by the states. This is a funny-money maneuver that would make even Enron blush.

To know the truth about what Bush is doing, don't read his lips ... read his budget.

Bush's Other War

Don't look now, but your federal government is about to sink our military, our tax dollars, and our country even deeper into the mire of Colombia's 38-year civil war.

For more than a decade, Washington has been pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into Colombia, along with a cadre of several hundred "military advisors," putting us on the side of the elitist government's long and losing campaign to suppress rebel guerrillas, who now control about 40% of that country. Ever so quietly, our nation's involvement has escalated throughout the past few years under the rationalization that this is part of the U.S. Drug War.

Now, the Bushites are quietly pushing Congress to expand our military involvement beyond the drug-war rationalization, moving us from a counternarcotics campaign directly into counterinsurgency. "We are not saying this is counterdrug," a top administration official said during a recent trip to Bogota. "The proposition we are making ... is that we ought to take an additional step."

Specifically, Bush & Co. want $98 million to protect a 500-mile-long oil pipeline from rebel bombings. They propose sending American helicopters, communications equipment, and more "advisors" to arm and train government troops to guard the Cano Limon pipeline that runs from oil fields in Colombia's interior to a seaport, where the oil is then exported to the U.S. They assert that protecting the pipeline is essential to propping up the government, since oil is the country's largest legal export. They don't mention that we also would be propping up Occidental Petroleum, which happens to own the pipeline.

Ready or not, here we go again with another Bush oil war.

Jim Hightower is a speaker and author. To book Jim, visit To subscribe to his monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, send $15, your name, and address to: Lowdown, PO Box 20596, New York, NY 10011

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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