Rebuilding Plans for War-Torn America? - September 24, 2003

Times Watch for September 24, 2003

Rebuilding Plans for War-Torn America?

Paul Bremer, U.S. administrator in Iraq, went on Capitol Hill to defend Bushs $87 billion request for additional aid. David Firestones Tuesday dispatch on Bremers appearance passes on, without comment, rather shaky Democratic criticism equating rebuilding in war-torn Iraq (a country severely lacking infrastructure) with rebuilding in the United States (whatever that means). Firestone writes: But skeptical members of the committee seemed more concerned about the price tag. Democratic senators said that the request was probably far smaller than the eventual total would be and that similar rebuilding plans at home were being neglected.

For the rest of Firestones piece on Bremer before Congress, click here.

Paul Bremer | Budget | Congress | David Firestone | Iraq War

Why Wont Bush Apologize to the UN?

From Wednesdays front-page story by Steven Weisman on Bushs speech to the United Nations: Without apology, Mr. Bush declared that the Security Council had been right to demand that Iraq destroy its illegal weapons and prove that it had done so and right to vow serious consequences if Iraq refused to comply. The United States, he said, had not only unseated Saddam Hussein but also defended the credibility of the United Nations. But that was not how others, from the secretary general of the United Nations to the French president, saw it. The invasion of Iraq, to them, remained a dangerous act of unilateralism now beset by intractable problems.

From Bushs Remarks Draw Skepticism, a same-day piece by Felicity Barringer: Most diplomats and scholars focused on Mr. Bush's unapologetic tone on the subject of the war in Iraq.

Felicity Barringer | Iraq War | United Nations | Steven Weisman

More Phantom Budget Cuts

How Years of Budget Cuts Put New Jerseys Children at Risk attempts to explain the dire straits of New Jerseys foster care system. Tuesdays story by Leslie Kaufman and Richard Lezin Jones points the finger: Looking back on the failure of New Jersey's foster care, one explanation jumps off the pages of the state's budgets. In the last decade, the number of children under the state's care rose alarmingly, to 58,000 from 40,000. Yet for fiscal year 2003, the state's spending on the child welfare agency had barely budged over the 10 years, up only to $312 million from $275 million. But that modest rise in spending captures only part of the story. The state, in the fiscal years 1995 through 1999, actually cut spending by $67 million despite some of the most robust economic conditions ever.

But notice that despite the storys headline, lamenting years of budget cuts, the child welfare agency budget actually increased 13.4% over a ten-year period (while the caseload rose 45%). Even if one thinks the state needs to pour more money into this failing system, its inaccurate to talk about budget cuts over a time span in which spending increased, albeit at a slower rate than the rate of caseload increase.

For more on New Jerseys child welfare woes, click here.