Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Domestic policy of the George W. Bush administration
Diversity and Civil Rights
Secularism and religous diversity: "Faith-Based Initiatives"
In early 2001, President Bush worked with Republicans in Congress to pass legislation changing the way the federal government regulated, taxed and funded charities and non-profit initiatives run by religious organizations. Although prior to the legislation it was possible for these organizations to receive federal assistence, the new legislation removed reporting requirements which required the organizations to seperate their charitable functions from their religious functions. Bush also created the | White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Several organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union have criticized Bush's faith-based initiative program as violating the principle of separation of church and state and being unconstitutional, and questioned if it violates the establishment clause of the first amendment.
George W. Bush endorsed a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution which sought to define marriage as "between a man and a woman." The amendment would have prohibited and nullified any existing same-sex marriages, and included language which would have disallowed state-sanctioned gay civil unions. The proposal failed in the Senate on July 14, 2004. On October 26, 2004, one week before his re-election, Bush reversed his opinion and expressed support for states' rights to establish civil unions (though he did not personally endorse civil unions). After his re-election, Bush stated that he would not lobby for the amendment during his second term unless the Defense of Marriage Act is declared unconstitutional. However, his chief political advisor Karl Rove announced on November 7, 2004 that a second-term drive will be made for a Federal Marriage Amendment, and Bush has told private guests to the White House that he remains committed to a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Bush repeated his support for the amendment during his State of the Union address on February 2, 2005.
Although Bush was not the first President to ask Congress to confirm the appointment of an openly gay man in the diplomatic corps (Bill Clinton nominated James Hormel to be ambassador to Luxembourg in 1999), he was the first President to successfully obtain U.S. Senate approval for a gay ambassadorial candidate (Michael E. Guest as ambassador to Romania), and the first Republican President to nominate a gay man to such a position.
Although President Bush did meet with the National Urban League, the nation's oldest civil rights organization, he has been criticized for failing to meet with the NAACP, a longstanding civil rights group, during his term in office; he is the first sitting President not to do so since Herbert Hoover, although he did meet with them during the 2000 campaign. During the 2004 campaign, Bush declined an invitation to speak, at first citing scheduling conflicts; later on, several of Bush's staff also cited critical political advertisements that the group ran as a reason not to attend.
Bush proposed an immigration bill that would have greatly expanded the use of guest worker visas.
Scientists have repeatedly criticized the Bush administration for reducing funding for scientific research, setting restrictions on Federal funding of stem cell research, ignoring scientific consensus on critical issues such as global warming, and hampering cooperation with foreign scientists by employing deterring immigration and visa practices. 
On January 14, 2004, Bush announced a "space vision", calling for a return to the Moon by 2020, the completion of the International Space Station by 2010 and eventually sending astronauts to Mars. To this end, the plan proposes that NASA's budget increase by five percent every year until it is capped at $18 billion in 2008, with only inflationary increases thereafter . The planned retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet in 2010 after the ISS is completed is also expected to free up $5 billion to $6 billion a year. Although the plan was met with a largely tepid reception (), the budget eventually passed with a few minor changes after the November elections. In January 2005 the White House released a new Space Transportation Policy fact sheet which outlined the administration's space policy in broad terms and tied the development of space transport capabilities to national security requirements.
Supporters believe that this plan will be an important part of what Bush set in place while in office. However, the policy has been criticized on two fronts. Firstly, critics have opined that the United States should deal with solving domestic issues before concentrating on space exploration. Secondly, of the funding over the next five years that Bush has proposed, only $1 billion will be in new appropriations while the remaining $11 billion will be reallocated from NASA's other programs, and therefore inadequate to fully realize this vision. Most of the spending for the new program, and most of the budget cuts for existing programs, are scheduled after the last year of the Bush presidency. It is unclear how the space vision will be reconciled with budgetary concerns in the longer term.
The $16.2 billion budget for 2005 proposed by NASA met with resistance from House and Senate spending committees, and the initiative was little-mentioned during the presidential campaign. Nonetheless, the budget was approved with only minor changes shortly after the November elections.
In January 2005 the White House released a new Space Transportation Policy fact sheet which outlined the administration's space policy in broad terms and tied the development of space transport capabilities to national security requirements.
Bush's environmental record has been attacked by environmentalists, who charge that his policies cater to industry demands to weaken environmental protections. He signed the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002 authorizing the federal government to begin cleaning up pollution and contaminated sediment in the Great Lakes, as well as the Brownfields Legislation in 2002, accelerating the cleanup of abandoned industrial sites, or brownfields, to better protect public health, create jobs, and revitalize communities. In December 2003, Bush signed legislation implementing key provisions of his Healthy Forests Initiative ; environmental groups have charged that the plan is simply a giveaway to timber companies. Another subject of controversy is Bush's Clear Skies plan ; opponents say that the initiative will in fact allow utilities to pollute more than they do currently. During his first presidential bid, Bush stated he supported the Kyoto protocol global warming treaty, but once in office he reversed that position, saying it would harm the U.S. economy. Environmental groups note that many Bush Administration officials, in addition to Bush and Cheney, have ties to the energy industry, automotive industry, and other groups that have fought against environmental protections. However, Bush claims his reason for not supporting the Kyoto Protocol is that it unfairly targets the U.S. as opposed to other nations, especially China.
Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
The Bush administration's plan to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was rejected twice by the U.S. Senate in 2002 due to concerns that it would potentially harm Arctic wildlife in the region. 
The Clear Skies Act of 2003
Bush supported the Clear Skies Act of 2003, which repeals or reduces air pollution controls. This act reduces caps on toxic chemicals in the air and cuts enforcement of the Clean Air Act, and is opposed by environmentalist groups such as the Sierra Club. Bush has faced heavy criticism over his advocacy for the act, with Henry A. Waxman (D-California) describing its title as "clear propaganda." Among other things, the Clear Skies Act:
- Weakens the current cap on mercury pollution levels from five tons per year to 26 tons.
- Weakens the current cap on nitrogen oxide pollution levels from 1.25 million tons to 2.1 million tons, allowing 68 percent more nitrogen oxide pollution.
- Weakens the current cap on sulphur dioxide pollution levels from two million tons to 4.5 million tons, allowing 225 percent more SO2 pollution.
- Delays enforcement of smog-and-soot pollution standards until 2015.
- Allows industrial buildings undergoing renovation, modernization, or expansion not to install machines that allow the building to come into current environmental standards compliance.
By 2018, the Clear Skies Act would allow 450,000 more tons of nitrogen oxides, one million more tons of SO2, and 9.5 more tons of mercury than what would be allowed by enforcement of the Clean Air Act.
Criticism from the Union of Concerned Scientists
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and other groups have routinely denounced Bush for distorting or suppressing scientific findings. In a February 2004 report endorsed by sixty Nobel laureates, the UCS alleged a pattern of manipulation of scientific findings for political goals. One example cited was that when the administration asked the U.S. National Academy of Sciences to review work by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the academy supported the panel's findings that human activity was playing a role in climate change. Nevertheless, the administration excised this information from official reports, such as the EPA's State of the Environment report , and disregard it in policy decisions. The administration — and its appointees in the EPA — nonetheless defend the administration's policies.
In February 2004, over 5,000 scientists (including 48 Nobel Prize winners) from the Union of Concerned Scientists signed a statement "opposing the Bush administration's use of scientific advice". They felt that "the Bush administration has ignored unbiased scientific advice in the policy-making that is so important for our collective welfare."  
On a related note, an eight-nation report compiled by 250 scientists due for publication on November 8th says the Arctic is warming almost twice as fast as the rest of the planet due to a build-up of heat-trapping gases. 
No child left behind
In January of 2002, Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act, which targets supporting early learning, measures student performance, gives options over failing schools, and ensures more resources for schools. Critics (including Senator Kerry and the National Education Association) say schools were not given the resources to help meet new standards, although the House Committee on Education and the Workforce said in June, 2003 that in three years under the Bush administration the Education Department's overall funding would have increased by $13.2 billion . Some state governments are refusing to implement provisions of the act as long as they are not adequately funded.
In January of 2005, USA Today reported that the United States Department of Education had paid $240,000 to conservative political commentator Armstrong Williams "to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same."  Williams did not disclose the payments.
While Bush was in office the CDC reframed information about condom usage on its website to favor abstinence, changed information on whether abortion and cancer are related to imply that they are, ran investigations to the point of harassment on safer sex workshops and related organizations, advised researchers not to use words such as "gay" in grant proposals, and most recently, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration made Oregon health officials rename their conference from "Suicide Prevention Among Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Individuals" to "Suicide Prevention in Vulnerable Populations." 
President Bush has implemented three tax cuts during his term in office: The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA), the Job Creation and Workers Assistance Act of 2002 (JCWA), and Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (JGTRRA).
During his first term, Bush sought and obtained Congressional approval for three major tax cuts. These temporary cuts, scheduled to expire a decade after passage, increased the standard income tax deduction for married couples, eliminated the estate tax, and reduced marginal tax rates. Bush has asked Congress to make the tax cuts permanent, but others want the cuts to be wholly or partially repealed even before their scheduled expiration, seeing the decrease in revenue while increasing spending as fiscally irresponsible.
Bush's supporters claim that the tax cuts increase the pace of economic recovery and job creation. His opponents contest this, primarily noting that the increase in job creation predicted by Bush's plan failed to materialize. They instead allege that the purpose of the tax cuts was intended to favor the wealthy and special interests, as the majority of benefit from the tax cut, in absolute terms, necessarily went to earners in the higher tax brackets. Bush's opponents additionally claim that the tax cuts are a major reason Bush reversed a national surplus into a historic deficit.
In an open letter to Bush in 2004, more than 100 professors of business and economics at U.S. business schools ascribed this "fiscal reversal" to Bush's "policy of slashing taxes - primarily for those at the upper reaches of the income distribution". 
By 2004, these cuts had reduced federal tax revenues, as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product, to the lowest level since 1959. The effect of simultaneous record increases in spending was to create record budget deficits. In the last year of the Clinton administration, the federal budget showed an annual surplus of more than US$230 billion.  Under Bush, however, the government returned to deficit spending. The annual deficit reached a record level of $374 billion in 2003 and then a further record of $413 billion in 2004. , (
Of the US$2.4 trillion budgeted for 2005, about US$450 billion are planned to be spent on defense. This level is generally comparable to the defense spending during the cold war.  Congress approved US$87 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan in November, and had approved an earlier US$79 billion package last spring. Most of those funds were for U.S. military operations in the two countries. 
Bush supports free trade policies and legislation but has resorted to protectionist policies on occasion. Tariffs on imported steel imposed by the White House in March 2002 were lifted after the WTO ruled them illegal. Bush explained that the safeguard measures had "achieved their purpose", and "as a result of changed economic circumstances", it was time to lift them. 
During Bush's presidency, the U.S. population has risen by about three million people per year.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unemployed was nearly 6.0 million in January 2001 and 8.0 million in August 2004. The unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in January 2001 and 5.4 percent in December 2004. 
In 2004, a full chapter on Iraq's economy was excised from the Economic Report of the President , in part because it doesn't fit the "feel good" tone of the writing, according to White House officials. 
Bush signed the Medicare Act of 2003, which added prescription drug coverage to Medicare, subsidized companies that sell these drugs, and prohibited the Federal government from negotiating discounts with drug companies. Critics claim that health care plans still are not affordable for those in lower income brackets; Bush states his policies offered more choice and help with the high costs of health care.
Bush is an advocate of the partial privatization of Social Security wherein an individual would be free to invest a portion of his Social Security taxes in personal retirement accounts.
Bush has called for major changes in Social Security, identifying the issue as a priority for his second term. As of 2005 it is expected that he will offer a proposal incorporating reductions in benefit levels and partial privatization (allowing individual workers to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in personal retirement accounts). Most Democrats and some Republicans are critical of such ideas, partly because of the large federal borrowing the plan would require ($1 trillion or more) and partly because of the problems encountered by the United Kingdom's privatized pension plan. See Social Security debate (United States).
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details