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Hands Across the Border

But that's sheer fantasy.

As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains: "Congressional Budget Office data show that the tax cuts have been the single largest contributor to the reemergence of substantial budget deficits in recent years. Legislation enacted since 2001 has added about $2.3 trillion to deficits between 2001 and 2006, with half of this deterioration in the budget due to the tax cuts."

And as Lori Montgomery wrote in The Washington Post in October 2006, even the Bush administration's own economists don't claim the tax cuts paid for themselves -- never mind reduced the deficit.

Environment Watch

Zachary Coile writes in the San Francisco Chronicle: "When the Bush administration announced proposed regulations Tuesday to raise fuel economy standards for cars and trucks to 31.6 miles per gallon by 2015, even some environmentalists applauded. But then they read the fine print.

"Tucked deep into a 417-page ' Notice of Proposed Rulemaking' was language by the Transportation Department stating that more stringent limits on tailpipe emissions embraced by California and 17 other states are 'an obstacle to the accomplishment' of the new federal standards and are 'expressly and impliedly preempted' by federal law. . . .

"The language showed that beneath the bipartisan veneer of support for new fuel economy standards - approved by Congress and signed by President Bush in December - the conflict is still raging between the White House and the states over who will set the nation's first limits on greenhouse gases."

Petraeus Watch

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates today announced that Gen. David Petraeus, who rose to prominence as the top commander in Iraq during the past year, is his choice to become the next commander of U.S. Central Command.

A team of Washington Post reporters telegraphed this back in September, reporting: "For two hours, President Bush listened to contrasting visions of the U.S. future in Iraq. Gen. David H. Petraeus dominated the conversation by video link from Baghdad, making the case to keep as many troops as long as possible to cement any security progress. Adm. William J. Fallon, his superior, argued instead for accepting more risks in Iraq, officials said, in order to have enough forces available to confront other potential threats in the region.

"The polite discussion in the White House Situation Room a week ago masked a sharper clash over the U.S. venture in Iraq, one that has been building since Fallon, chief of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees Middle East operations, sent a rear admiral to Baghdad this summer to gather information. Soon afterward, officials said, Fallon began developing plans to redefine the U.S. mission and radically draw down troops.

"One of those plans, according to a Centcom officer, involved slashing U.S. combat forces in Iraq by three-quarters by 2010. In an interview, Fallon disputed that description but declined to offer details. Nonetheless, his efforts offended Petraeus's team, which saw them as unwelcome intrusion on their own long-term planning. The profoundly different views of the U.S. role in Iraq only exacerbated the schism between the two men.

"'Bad relations?' said a senior civilian official with a laugh. 'That's the understatement of the century. . . . If you think Armageddon was a riot, that's one way of looking at it.'"

And it's been clear for some time now whose side Bush was taking.

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