Has anything good come out of Washington?

In the past year, the United States has experienced historic events galore: war, big spending and domestic policy controversies, along with an increasingly tense international climate. As the election approaches, President Bush has plenty that he won’t want the country to remember.

The situation in Iraq has worsened and the War on Terror continues as the federal deficit swells to epic proportions. Legislators considered allowing even higher-concentrated nuclear waste into Utah. Proposed immigration and health-care reforms have galvanized members of both parties in a fiery political atmosphere nationwide. The gay marriage debate is back and more heated than ever, while record breaking tax cuts and a sputtering economy promise to make this November one of the most cutthroat elections in recent memory.

Conservative contradictions are gaining momentum-this year alone, there are countless examples of many Republican moves aimed at favoring private business at the expense of average Americans, calling it assistance and hoping no one figures out the difference.

In Iraq, the situation remains chaotic and the ever-elusive weapons of mass destruction have yet to be found. At best, the rebuilding efforts are challenging. At worst, reconstruction promises to be impossibly complicated and Bush’s strategy thus far is both jumbled and costly. The Bush administration’s justification for waging war has shifted considerably, from weapons to terrorism to peace in the Middle East to a duty to Iraqis and back again. In the meantime, rebuilding contracts go to conservative cronies, American lives are being lost and there is no end in sight. The situation in Iraq is not only suspicious-it’s terrifying.

At home, the nation is struggling to prevent future terrorist attacks thanks to inadequate funding and poor communication between federal agencies. Bush talks a lot about protecting American borders, yet withholds necessary resources to build homeland security-another piercing example of big talk and either inaction or the wrong action. While Bush has so far successfully prevented further terrorist attacks, the United States remains vulnerable.

And speaking of vulnerable, another example of conservative ball-dropping: The government is pushing to put more Utahns at risk. In February, Bush budgeted to allow resumed underground nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site-the same place where testing exposed thousands of Utahns to cancer-causing radioactive materials in the last 50 years. The dangers of radioactive fallout are well known. Generations of Americans have suffered the tragic consequences, but Bush doesn’t seem to care. He has not made the health and safety of average Americans a priority. Similarly, the controversy about nuclear material in Utah is just beginning. In the past year, Utah’s own Republican Congressman Rob Bishop pushed to get Envirocare to accept even higher levels of nuclear waste. It’s another striking example of conservative contradiction-ignore the safety and well-being of average Americans in favor of boosting big business, claim to help people and hope no one notices the difference.

Bush also proposed immigration reform in the shape of a guest-worker program to lower labor costs for big businesses. Offering temporary legal status to immigrants as long as they don’t change employers is promising in the short term but the lasting effects are startling-withholding opportunities to work toward citizenship or legal residency undermines efforts to work toward sustainable, long term immigration policy. Many critics worry that the plan will slow wage growth and leave immigrants vulnerable to exploitation by employers. Again, Bush is helping out corporate America at the expense of the little guy-poor representation by any account. Recent health-care reforms have been similarly inept. Bush’s latest reforms undercut the rest of Medicare by subsidizing private companies. But its restructuring misses the point-government-subsidized competition sets public programs up for failure. Yet again, the administration is favoring private industry over American health but labeling it “reform.”

Another recent conservative inconsistency involves an enormous federal seizure of state authority: the Federal Marriage Amendment. While the gay marriage debate is one of the most impassioned discussions in recent history, the FMA is the wrong battle-gay marriage is simply not a federal question. Individual states have always had constitutional authority in this area, so each state’s voters should decide what to allow within their borders. For a party that feigns concern about federal overreach, a constitutional amendment regarding so called moral issues is almost laughable. Similarly incoherent with espoused conservative ideals is the latest round of tax cuts. Bush’s tax cuts were for the wrong people-the already wealthy-at the wrong time-with the country facing record deficits and a controversial war. Today’s misstep will become tomorrow’s catastrophe as our children carry the weight of the bulging deficit for generations to come.

In the past year, many Republican moves have put American health, safety and economic well-being at risk. The already charged political climate will only intensify from here as the election approaches. Glaring inconsistencies cover the entire political spectrum, from foreign policy to gay marriage and from federal spending to nuclear testing and health care. Bush’s precarious balance between noisy rhetoric and clumsy, hazardous action can’t last much longer.

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