Jewish World Review Nov. 11, 2002 / 6 Kislev, 5763
The federal government must immediately confront three issues that are vital to Americans. No. 1 is stopping the relentless flow of illegal immigrants into the United States. The census bureau estimates there could be as many as 13 million undocumented aliens currently running around this country unsupervised. Even if that number is high, the problem is simply out of control. Keep in mind that one of the accused snipers, John Lee Malvo, was in the country illegally, as were three of the 9-11 killers. The problem of illegal immigration puts all Americans at risk.
Both the northern and southern borders are currently wide open, and the Border Patrol will tell you that it does not have the manpower to even dent the flow of illegal aliens and dangerous drugs into the United States. There is only one solution that would have an immediate impact -- deploying the military to back up the Border Patrol.
According to a poll taken last summer by Fox News, 79 percent of Americans support using the military to help secure the borders of the United States. But that overwhelming number does not seem to include our elected officials in Washington. Very few of them support militarizing the border. The reasons range from citing the arcane Posse Commitatus law to fearing a Hispanic voter backlash. But laws can be changed, and politics should not intrude on the public safety. If U.S. forces can control the area between North and South Korea, they can stabilize El Paso, Texas, and Tucson, Ariz.
The second issue the Republicans must deal with is out-of-control government spending and the high rate of taxation on working Americans. I live on Long Island, and working families here pay the highest taxes in the nation. Also, housing costs are through the roof, pardon the pun. It is not an exaggeration to say that a family of four living in or near New York City, or places like Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago needs a six-figure income to afford even a decent house. That means that teachers, cops, firemen, carpenters and the like have salaries that often will not allow them to buy a home. This is an outrage.
The problem is that the government does not watch the money. The General Accounting Office estimates that billions of tax dollars are stolen or wasted every year. There is no central authority on the federal level to track where the money goes. The GAO is only called in after there's a misappropriation. The Justice Department has an Office of Budget and Management Services, the president has the Office of Management and Budget, and the legislators have the Congressional Budget Office. None of these overseers work together. It is a chaotic mess.
If President Bush and the GOP were to reorganize spending oversight effectively, it would save billions, and the working American could get a meaningful tax cut, not a couple of hundred bucks. Hey, Mr. President, watch the money, and control spending like a responsible private company would. Put Dick Cheney in charge, he's a bottom-line guy. If the Republicans don't control spending now, the party ought to hang it up.
Finally, the scandal of public education in America must be addressed, and here's how to do it: Every school district that accepts federal dollars must conform to an academic and disciplinary standard set by the Feds. That means school uniforms, not belly-exposing blouses. That means standardized tests, not feel-good self-esteem classes. And that means teachers that teach, not schmooze. Federal monitors in each state would evaluate local schools, and those that failed to impose a rigorous curriculum and intense discipline would lose their federal subsidies.
Of course the local school boards and many teachers unions would howl, but so what? You want an educated population or the continuing merry-go-round of students that cannot think, read or write? Public schooling in this country will not improve until serious reform takes place. The Republicans know it. But does the party have the guts to do it?
Someone once said, "with great power comes great responsibility." President Bush now has the power. But does he have the right stuff?
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11/04/02: The Attorney General blues