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By Bill Gallagher

DETROIT -- The Republican-controlled Congress has abrogated its most basic constitutional obligations, ignored an unprecedented assault on the Bill of Rights, allowed the president to dictate legislative decisions and willingly yielded to power-crazed George W. Bush's lust to have the absolute power that corrupts absolutely.

The worst Congress in more than a century has besmirched the institution by making K Street lobbyists gods, creating an atmosphere for rampant bribery and favor-taking, and spending more on pork-barrel projects than any Congress in history.

The spending is wildly out of control, and Bush enables the fiscal benders (he's never vetoed a spending bill) so he can keep the GOP Congress in line and subservient to him. The stinking symbiosis of one-party rule has allowed greed and power to fester in a partnership that cheats the public and raids the U.S. Treasury for private gain.

The borrow-and-spend recklessness Bush and his Republican Congress have sold will burden future generations with unconscionable debt. Bush is still selling his old snake oil that Republicans are fighting to help working-class Americans and Democrats will reach into their pockets.

Every reputable economist on the planet tells us the Bush-GOP deficits are "unsustainable." The very notion that running up government debt to provide tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans benefits working families is simply laughable. Working people, whose payroll checks are subject to federal income taxes, are inordinately paying for that debt, a burden that will only increase under Bushevik rule.

The war in Iraq is costing American taxpayers more than $6 billion a month. Bush puts those costs on our national Visa Card, and our children and grandchildren will bear the brunt of the obligation for this war of civilizations. Bush has never asked the American people to pay up-front for his war of choice and he never will. In Bush world, we not only get a free lunch, with prescription drugs included, but a free war. Only partisans and fools buy these fiscal fantasies.

Democratic control of at least one house of Congress will not undo the mess. One-party rule has brought so much misery to the nation and world. But even a little damage control will help. Restoring meaningful congressional oversight would be refreshing. Requiring Bushevik apparatchiks to trot up to Capitol Hill and testify under oath would be cathartic as well as revealing. How about a look at government programs that invest in much-needed public infrastructure improvements? Those projects are not only important for domestic security, but they can provide significantly more economic bounce than military spending and the Halliburton money drain.

Let's examine taxation and fiscal policies that benefit the great majority of the American people instead of the corporate interests and fabulously rich the Republicans rely on for campaign contributions and then dutifully serve. Bush's radical policies of shifting more obligations for the cost of government from investment-earners in the highest tax brackets to wage-earners in the middle class have resulted in a dramatic and unjust redistribution of wealth and certainly no economic "trickle down," a discredited myth.

How about the folks on Capitol Hill paying just a little attention to the significant loss of manufacturing jobs? Once the engine for the middle class, the manufacturing sector has been in free-fall under Bush's one-party rule.

Paul Krugman, the always-vigilant New York Times columnist and Princeton economist, keeps track of these telling trends. "Employment in manufacturing, which once dominated the economy, has fallen 18 percent since 2000, to 14.2 million," Krugman wrote.

But there is remarkable job growth in what Krugman calls "the ugly world of American health economics," a sector growing uglier each day of the Bushevik one-party rule. "Between 2000 and 2005, the number of Americans with private health insurance coverage fell by 1 percent," Krugman notes. "But over the same period, employment at health insurance companies rose a remarkable 32 percent. What are all those extra employees doing?"

The answer is easy, Krugman explains. They are working furiously to identify people who really need medical care and booting them off private health insurance plans. People with group plans are somewhat safer, but as employers continue to slash those programs, more and more workers will be turning to private plans, and if they have health problems, they are at high risk of losing their coverage altogether.

We spend more per capita on health insurance than any nation on earth, and yet 47 million Americans have no health insurance at all. More people will join those ranks under one-party rule, and the suffering will spread. "The fact is that cruelty and injustice are the inevitable results of the current rules of the game," Krugman argues.

He's right. And the rule-makers for American health care are the Republicans in Congress who protect private insurers, hospital chains and the big drug companies. It's about time we had a serious national discussion about universal health care and how that would help the American manufacturing sector. The issue will never be mentioned as long as important public policy issues are locked in the shackles of one-party rule.

"Washington Monthly" magazine offered an interesting forum for Republicans and conservatives to discuss the consequences of ending the GOP stranglehold on Washington. Some provocative points were made in favor of giving "divided government" a chance, and the articles showed the deep discontent among true conservatives over George W. Bush's radical departure from their traditional values.

I have long argued that Bush is no conservative and his remaining supporters are partisans, blind to his devotion to big government.

Richard Viguerie, the conservative icon and direct-mail guru, offered this assessment: "With their record over the past few years, the Big Government Republicans in Washington do not merit the support of conservatives. They have busted the federal budget for generations to come with their prescription-drug benefit and the creation and expansion of other programs. They have brought forth a limitless pork for the sole, immoral purpose of holding onto office. They have expanded government regulation into every aspect of our lives and have refused to deal seriously with mounting domestic policies such as illegal immigration."

Bruce Fein, a constitutional lawyer and former deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration, argues Democrats controlling one house of Congress could restrain the White House.

He offers a view of a principle I share and the Busheviks disdain: "The most conservative principle of the Founding Fathers was a distrust of unchecked power." Fine writes that the "Constitution embraced a separation of powers to keep the legislative, executive and judicial branches in equilibrium." What we now have is a precarious imbalance as Bush demands and his GOP harlots on the Hill give.

"But a Republican Congress has done nothing to thwart President George W. Bush's alarming usurpations of legislative prerogatives," Fein writes. "Instead, it has largely functioned as an echo chamber of the White House." Fein finds Bush's flouting of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ( FISA) an "imperial theory" of unsupported constitutional authority "that would empower him to open mail, break in and enter homes or torture detainees, even in violation of federal criminal statues."

But Bush largely gets away with it as the national legislature walks away from its responsibility to stand up against the executive's unprecedented claims of inherent powers. "Republicans in Congress have bowed to the president's scorn for the rule of law and craving for secret government."

Fein notes. "They have voted against Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold's resolution to rebuke Bush for violating federal statutes and crippling checks and balances."

Most of those same Republicans voted to impeach President Bill Clinton for lying about sex acts, but are unwilling to even criticize Bush for defiling the Constitution. Also, several Democrats willing to censure Clinton refused to slap Bush on the wrist.

Fein sees Bush's use of "signing statements" to reserve for himself the right to ignore the laws he chooses to as "equivalent to a line-item veto" where he alone decides what is unconstitutional.

Fein argues Bush's "most frightening claim" also done with "congressional acquiescence" was his declaration of "monarchial power" to detain citizens. Until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled he had no such authority in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Fein described Bush's claims that "he could pluck any American citizen out of his home or off the sidewalk and detain him indefinably on the president's finding that he was an illegal combatant. No court could second guess the president."

The Supreme Court, however, was willing to go where the gutless GOP Congress would not tread. Fein sees Republicans who refused to challenge Bush's dictatorial claims as "placing party loyalty above institutional loyally, contrary to the expectations of the Founding Fathers."

In foreign affairs, I consider myself an "Eisenhower Republican." We must protect our nation, and the best way to do that is with broad international alliances. We must contain our enemies, but not force violent confrontations. We can be an important force for good in the world. We should act with restraint and moderation. Most of all, don't do anything crazy. Dwight Eisenhower would have wished to see crazy George W. Bush restrained, and I'll bet Barry Goldwater would, too. The 1964 Republican candidate for president and author of "The Conscience of a Conservative" would have found Bush frightening and dangerous.

Ironically, in his day, many Democrats and even some Republicans branded Goldwater as crazy. Today he would be speaking out against Bush's international recklessness, fiscal madness and the cynical Republican use of right-wing religious intolerance on social issues.

Indeed, Eisenhower and Goldwater would hope for the end of one-party rule and some long-overdue constraints on "Crazy George" Bush.

Bill Gallagher, a Peabody Award winner, is a former Niagara Falls city councilman who now covers Detroit for Fox2 News. His e-mail address is gallaghernewsman@sbcglobal.net.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com September 26 2006