President George Bush made a visit to metro Detroit last
Thursday for a round of building political support in Livonia for
his 2004 reelection campaign and a round of fundraising in
Dearborn. At his speech to the workers of Beaver Aerospace and
Defense Inc. in Livonia, Bush explained his tax plan and how it
will supposedly boost the economy and create more jobs.
Bush’s decision to come to Michigan stemmed from the existence
of the state’s highest unemployment rate in ten years and
Michigan’s critical importance in the 2004 presidential elections.
Despite Bush’s intentions to appear receptive to Michigan
residents’ concerns about their jobs and the economy, he is clearly
out of touch with the typical American. Mr. Bush explained his plan
to cut taxes for small businesses and how he thinks that such cuts
will help small businesses create more jobs by spending more money.
But a report from Democrats on the House Small Business Committee
states that “over half of small businesses would receive less than
$500 under the president’s jobs and growth package.” Five hundred
dollars is not a whole lot of money in the world of business and
certainly not enough to expand demand for equipment in a manner
that would create the number of jobs that Bush claims it will.
Other aspects of the Bush economic plan raise concern. The
checks for the child tax credit that were mailed out to households
across the country over the past weekend will not reach the homes
that need the money the most. About 16.5 million low-income
families will not receive the benefits because, with their earnings
of between $10,500 and $26,625, they do not make enough to pay
federal income taxes. And those who receive the checks are more
likely to use the money — about $400 per child — to pay off
existing debts rather than run to the nearest mall and splurge.
At the evening gathering at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Dearborn,
Bush addressed a fundraising dinner of supporters who had paid
$2,000 a head to attend. Here, Bush again explained his tax cuts
and spoke about the war in Iraq to cheers from a partisan
Bush’s stops in Livonia and Dearborn came on the same day that
the Federal Election Commission issued an important ruling on the
McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The FEC maintained the ban on
direct soft money donations to parties and candidates but
determined that corporations and unions could still contribute,
without limitation to party conventions and fundraisers. Bush
raised over $2 million at the dinner in Dearborn, and while this is
not illegal by an means, its coincidence with the FEC ruling only
reinforces the key role that money plays in the U.S. political
system and how the average American has too little influence over
how his government functions.
While the fate of McCain-Feingold has yet to be decided
definitively — the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear
arguments and rule on different aspects of the legislation this
fall — the public can expect to see more of these types of
extravagant dinners as the presidential primaries approach. Perhaps
if Bush wants to build more credibility with most of the citizens,
he can use the next few months creating a set of policies that
benefit all Americans, even those who cannot afford lavish dinners
at the Ritz Carlton.