Saturday, February 11, 2006

Think of the Children

Isn't it amusing that, at the same time the Bush administration jacks up the defense budget by almost $50 billion for FY 2007, they claim they need to sell off federal lands to pay for rural schools. Some 300,000 acres of national forests and other wilderness areas are up for grabs since the White House just can't find $1 billion for schools. There is, however, plenty of room in a Bush budget to continue to push his about-to-expire multi-billion dollar tax cuts.
Forest Service officials say the sales are needed to raise $800 million over the next five years to pay for schools and roads in rural counties hurt by logging cutbacks on federal land. The Bureau of Land Management has said it also plans to sell federal lands to raise an estimated $250 million over five years.
Of course, the real reason can found, buried as usual:
The lands are typically part of a checkerboard pattern of small parcels surrounded by suburban or urban areas.
These would be public lands that developers could easily exploit.

As is well-known, Richard Pombo, chairman of the House Resources Committee, is a land owner himself and his committee has direct oversight of the Forestry Service and Bureau of Land Management. And it was Pombo who was responsible for a previous proposal to sell off federal lands to reduce the deficit in order to make some obtuse point about ANWR. Well, that dream may come to pass, despite Democratic resistance, which amounts to buggar-all these days.

The difference this time is the Bushies have hit upon a much more heart-warming tale: it's for schools, you see. It is for the children. Who's going to argue with that?


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