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Bush fighting for media, nation's attention

By By SONNY CALLAHAN
U.S. Representative
In a weird way, you've got to feel kind of sorry for President George W. Bush during the traditional "honeymoon period" all new presidents enjoy with the American people.
While almost every national poll shows his popularity going up daily – that's the good news – he's having a harder time making the lead story on the national news each night because of the questionable actions taken by his predecessor during the closing days of the Clinton administration.
Whether he likes all the attention or not (and surely he doesn't), it seems the former president has literally stolen the limelight away from the new president during his first month in office.
Take, for instance, Mr. Bush's first White House press conference last week.
Rather than focus on the president's $1.6 trillion tax cut, members of the national news media seemed more interested in talking about pardons, payoffs and scandal.
NBC national news even has a special segment each evening, "The Clinton Watch."
President Bush was right, in my opinion, to say he wasn't going to comment on the controversy; that his administration is looking to the future, not worrying about the past.
But while the president is right to stay focused and on message, I believe it is appropriate for the three committees of jurisdiction in both the House and Senate to be investigating the serious allegations regarding the last minute presidential pardons which have received so much attention.
Obviously, no one knows what the final outcome will be to these investigations.
Most likely, there won't be any smoking gun leading directly to the former president.
But even the mere suggestion that a presidential pardon could be purchased in some form or fashion is too serious to simply look the other way.
We should all stay tuned. This plot is thickening by the hour.
Speaking of surpluses
While the president has been talking about how his tax cuts will help stimulate a weakened economy, one important element in the debate on tax cuts is missing.
Friends, we're not talking about a tax cut in the middle of deficit spending, as we did during the last several tax cut efforts.
Instead, we're talking about a tax cut only after fully funding all our other priorities, from education to defense to debt reduction to protecting Social Security and Medicare.
As hard as it may be to realize, the federal government is in our fourth straight year of operating with a budget surplus.
That's right. A surplus.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines a surplus as "being more than or in excess of what is needed or required."
Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that we're talking about having more money in Washington than the federal government needs to meet all of our current and projected obligations.
Now you decide.
Would you rather get some of that surplus back in the form of a tax cut, as the president has proposed?
Or would you rather trust the federal government to spend your overpayment, making the assumption that Washington can spend your money better than you can?
The president has been clear that he believes all Americans who pay taxes should get a refund on their overpayment.
The national polls suggest a growing number of people agree with this premise.
While the debate in Congress over tax cuts hasn't yet been fully engaged, there is growing optimism that a significant tax cut will be adopted sometime this year.
Now that's a step in the right direction, if you ask me.
Until next week, take care and God Bless.