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Viewpoint: Overholser needs to look at facts when comparing Bush, Obama budgets

In his Feb. 3 letter to the editor Mark Overholser talks about "Kodak moments" in President Barack Obama's recent State of the Union address. Of course, the State of the Union has been political theater since it was first televised in 1947; that is the nature of television. Remember those purple-dipped fingers, waving on cue, in unison, during a George W. Bush State of the Union address? That was pure political theater. But, what about Overholser's supposed "facts"?

During the Bush administration, several gimmicks were used to make the deficit look smaller.

For example, revenues from the alternative minimum tax (AMT) were counted in the projected budget, even though the AMT was "patched," and those projected revenues were never collected. The Obama administration budget does not count revenues from the AMT.

Bush also omitted from his budgets spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Medicare reimbursements to physicians and the cost of disaster responses, all of which are counted in Obama's budget.

Remember, also, the 2009 fiscal year began Oct. 1, 2008, nearly four months before Obama took office. The budget for the entire fiscal year was largely set in place while Bush was in the White House. So, blame Bush for the deficit Obama inherited? Unless you think the world was created on Jan. 20, 2009, then, yes.

Treating terrorists as criminals? Terrorists are criminals. They commit murder, not acts of war, albeit on a large scale. The most effective way to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks is through a police approach, conducted in concert with law enforcement agencies around the world. Already, we are getting actionable intelligence from the "underwear bomber," through legal interrogation techniques. Treating terrorists as "soldiers" only serves to glorify them, and inspires others to emulate them.

Regarding health care reform: Poll results vary, some show support for reform, others do not. However, with more than 46 million Americans lacking health insurance, with more than 40,000 Americans dying needlessly, every year, because they lack health insurance, with health care costing 16 percent of gross domestic product and going up, health care reform is imperative.

Many of the polled who oppose the current proposals, oppose them because they prefer single payer, an even more comprehensive reform than the current bills. I would add that the election in Massachusetts was not about health care. Massachusetts already has a universal health care plan; and Scott Brown voted for it.

Class war? When the overwhelming bulk of the Bush tax cuts went to the wealthiest, while the middle class suffered stagnant and decreasing incomes, while we had zero net job growth over the past decade and while the income gap in the United States grew to historic proportions, with an astonishing share of the nation's wealth falling into the hands of a tiny elite? Please.

As for Justice Samuel Alito's unprecedented breach of protocol during the State of the Union, Overholser is flat out wrong. Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, both corporations and unions had the same right to buy political ads using PAC money.

Until now, there were severe restrictions on campaign ads used by corporations for federal elections; they had to be issue-focused, and not expressly supporting or opposing a candidate. Those limits have now been removed, and corporations can use money from general revenues, rather than just PAC money; imagine Exxon-Mobil or United Health threatening a member of Congress with billions of dollars worth of attack ads if that Representative doesn't toe the corporate line.

The Supreme Court's decision, which overturned nearly a century of precedent, is, truly, a threat to our democracy.

Joyce Denn is a Woodbury resident.