WASHINGTON – A rebellion by four Republican senators against George W. Bush’s tax giveaways to the rich has forced the GOP leadership to postpone a vote on Bush’s 2005 budget for at least a month.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) announced May 20 that with four Republicans joining the nearly solid Democratic opposition, he lacks the votes to push through Bush’s $2.4 trillion 2005 budget. It squeaked through the House by a 216-213 vote.

The story was overshadowed by the deepening crisis in Iraq, but it was a huge embarrassment to Bush, another sign of his sharp decline. A CBS poll released May 25 shows that Bush’s overall job approval has plunged to 41 percent with a decline among Republicans for the first time. Fully 65 percent said the nation is “headed in the wrong direction” and 61 percent disapproved of his handling of Iraq. Democratic presidential contender, John Kerry, was preferred by 49 percent compared to 41 percent for Bush.

Bush made a much-publicized foray to Capitol Hill for a closed-door pep rally with Republican lawmakers many fearful that Bush has placed their own re-election in jeopardy. A few hours later, Frist announced he was pulling the Bush budget from the Senate floor, clear evidence that Bush’s stroking session had failed.

One of the rebels, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), said he wanted to send a message to Republican “fat cats” who wallow in Bush tax cuts, unwilling to make any sacrifices while U.S. soldiers are dying in Iraq.

Bush made a trip to Ohio hoping he could force Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) to reverse his position and support the budget bill. But Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), a third rebel, scoffed. “I have a feeling this is going to backfire on the president,” Chafee told CNN. “George Voinovich has been around a long time. … He knows about making budgets, meeting budgets as a mayor and as governor. … We have to make sure we’re not getting into these tremendous deficits.”

Chafee added, “I think most Americans have the same questions that Sen. Voinovich … Snowe … McCain … and myself have about this: How can you be proposing more tax cuts? The big tax cuts, the $1.5 trillion in the spring of 2001, didn’t stimulate the economy. At the same time we had these enormous expenditures in Afghanistan, with homeland security, with the war in Iraq. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Bush’s Pentagon budget totals $402 billion. That does not count the $165 billion already approved for the wars and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq or the $25 billion supplemental appropriation the White House has just asked for the Iraq occupation.

According to some pundits, Bush, seeking to avoid “sticker shock” among voters, will wait until after the Nov. 2 election to request another $50 billion for the Iraq occupation – a grand total of $240 billion for these wars.

Yet Bush demanded that the lawmakers make permanent his tax cuts for the rich, swelling next year’s deficit to a near record high $367 billion. It is also loaded with savage cutbacks in education, health care, food stamps and other human needs.

The author can be reached at greenerpastures21212@yahoo.com.

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