Bush Priorities Should Stoke Fear in GOP

A children's insurance veto, $190 billion for wars, and a "deficit be damned" attitude all spell trouble.

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The nation has a clear picture now of the Bush administration's spending priorities and its agenda. Republicans running for re-election next year should be trembling.

* Despite pleas from some senior Republicans, Bush has threatened to veto a healthcare bill providing medical attention for millions of needy children. The president thinks the cost is too much.

* Within 48 hours, Bush's Pentagon asks Congress for $190 billion this fiscal year for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The total was $43 billion more than the original estimate.

Am I missing something here? Do Bush, Cheney, Gates, and Rice have a death wish for Republican officeholders next year?

Strong GOP voices in Congress, such as that of Iowa veteran Sen. Chuck Grassley, have openly blamed Bush for being wrongheaded on this healthcare measure. No one has ever called Grassley a wild-spending liberal.

You can bet the house that the GOP smear machine is already gearing up to accuse Democrats of abandoning the troops if they fail to back the increased spending on the wars. The GOP loves to play the antipatriotism card.

The money for the two wars, already costing more than $3.5 billion a week, goes on without any call from the administration to pay for it. In fact, Bush wants a permanent tax cut and to hell with confronting the cost. Just print the money and pass the debt to future generations.

Many years ago, a cantankerous Republican from Waterloo, Iowa, Rep. H. R. Gross, would holler at liberal Democrats on spending bills: "How you gonna pay for it?"

The House would erupt in laughter at this lonely voice for a pay-as-you-go-standard. We are in far different times today, and we do have threats to deal with.

Nevertheless: H. R. Gross, you old curmudgeon, we need someone like you to reason with the "deficit be damned" crowd in your Republican Party.