Bush Proclaims National Park Week, Cuts Funding
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It's a mighty good thing that there's no such medical condition as an indignation or hypocrisy overdose. If such a malady did exist, the 40 million Americans with no health insurance would have no means to get treated when the daily news from the Bush administration drives them into delirium.
I keep up on formal presidential proclamations as it's always interesting to see what George W. Bush is acknowledging and lauding with one hand while he backhands the same cause or organization with the other.
In case you missed it, Bush signed an official proclamation yesterday designating April 22-30 as National Park Week.
"In America's national parks, the magnificent beauty of our country and important examples of our Nation's cultural heritage are preserved and made available to Americans and visitors from all over the world," said Bush in the stirring proclamation, signed yesterday. "Each year, as we observe National Park Week, we underscore our commitment to conserve our natural and historical treasures and encourage more Americans to enjoy, learn from, and protect these important parts of our heritage."
"With the opportunity to live in America comes a responsibility to ensure that our national parks remain a source of pride, pleasure, and education for all our citizens. During National Park Week and throughout the year, we pay tribute to the employees and volunteers of the National Park Service. For the past 90 years, these dedicated men and women have worked to maintain and enhance our national parks and to ensure that they are preserved and enjoyed for generations to come," reads the official proclamation.
Wow, I would get all misty-eyed over his stewardship of our national resources if I didn’t know that Bush's fiscal-year 2007 budget has slashed $100.5 million from the national parks' budget for next year. These cuts come on top of the $5 billion maintenance backlog in America's national parks -- as cited by the Government Accountability Office -- after five years of being ignored in favor of a needless war and massive tax cuts to Bush's richest constituents.
Because of that recent neglect, major parks had already begun cutting services and will now have to diminish what they offer still more to account for Team Bush's priorities. For example, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, has closed one of its major visitor centers and shut down two water stations. Many other parks have closed information centers and cut ranger-guided tours.
Senate Democrats tried to do something about this last month, when Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) introduced S.Amdt. 3103, which would have made up for the Bush cuts to National Parks while also restoring funding for the civil works programs of the Corps of Engineers, Federal Water Pollution Control, the National Forest Service and other federal conservation programs.
"The National Park Service is being cut. Our National Parks have a desperate need for funding in order to carry out their activities," said Sarbanes, in fighting for S.Amdt. 3103 in March. "The Park Service is falling well short of what they need in order to sustain the park system."
How would the Sarbanes bill have been funded? By closing a set of corporate tax loopholes which, as we well know, makes enough sense that it brings about instant legislative death at the hands of Bill Frist and the GOP leadership.
Sure enough, it went down by a vote of 48-49, with every Democrat voting for the funding and all 49 "nay" votes cast by Republicans.
If you would like to help, please contact the National Parks Conservation Association -- they could use a hand after all of this "commitment" from the White House.