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Editorials Feb. 10

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Still at it We’d think it remarkable that the president of the United States came to Little Rock last week to lie about Social Security if we didn’t know that his successful 2004 presidential campaign employed more lies more effectively than any in history — lies about weapons of mass destruction, about Iraqi ties with Al-Qaeda, about John Kerry’s war record and legislative record, and about so much more. By continuing to lie about Social Security, Bush is following the old baseball strategy of staying with your best pitch. Social Security is not on the brink of going “flat bust” as Bush said in Little Rock — as he says everywhere — and this has been pointed out many times. And it is not Democrats who are trying to frighten senior citizens, another Bush misstatement, it is the president himself who is traveling the country hoping to instill panic among the elderly so that he can achieve his goal of privatizing Social Security. Fortunately, groups like AARP are showing themselves to be unpanicked and undeceived. The truth about Social Security is that it’s the most successful anti-poverty program in American history — Bush’s party opposed it from the beginning — and it can continue to perform that benevolent function with only comparatively minor adjustments. For example, the Congressional Budget Office predicts a shortfall in the system in 2053. (Benefits would continue to be paid but at a lower level.) But the shortfall is only one-fourth the amount of Bush’s tax cuts for the super-rich, cuts that he now proposes to make permanent. A better use for that money leaps to the eye. As Ronald Reagan used to say, there are easy answers. Pounding women “I am so tired of men telling women what they can do and must do with their lives,” state Rep. Joyce Elliott told the House the other day. Her colleagues in the predominantly male House seem never to tire of it. They responded to Elliott by approving, 83-13, another of the woman-bashing bills they have such a taste for. It’s a wonder they didn’t throw things at her. The bill (HB 1033) would make it harder for a minor to get an abortion, by requiring that she first obtain the consent of a parent. It is part of a larger strategy to whittle away at abortion rights as much as legally possible — to keep women in their inferior place, in other words. Representatives who pretended otherwise — Dustin McDaniel of Jonesboro, Bruce Maloch of Magnolia — were being as disingenuous as George Bush. The bill is not “common sense” as Maloch called it, it is common cruelty, aimed at some of the most vulnerable people in our society. People who see good public policy in this sort of legislation would see good public policy in turpentining cats.

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