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Tears of a Crocodile
February 13, 2002
by The Radical Ratdog

According to a Washington Post article...

Byrd vs. O'Neill: Budget Battle Turns Personal
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 8, 2002; Page A01

Tensions between Congress and the White House over the president's budget exploded into the open yesterday when a debate over congressional prerogatives turned into an unusually bitter and personal exchange involving two of Washington's most powerful figures: Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill.

The spat rocked an otherwise routine Senate Budget Committee hearing, where the normal dance of senatorial courtesy -- and polite groveling by administration witnesses -- suddenly vanished. O'Neill, telling Byrd he wouldn't "cede to you the high moral ground of not knowing what life is like in a ditch," struggled with his emotions by taking deep breaths.

Byrd, 84, chairs the Appropriations Committee and is arguably the fiercest defender of Congress's interests. He spent 15 minutes berating O'Neill, a blunt former corporate executive, for a speech O'Neill made last year asserting that congressional rules "created by just ordinary people" are "like the Lilliputians tying us to the ground." Washington Post

Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill, reportedly, shed tears. Various other news media later described these as tears of FIRE.

Were they tears of compassion, self-pity, fire or those of a crocodile?

Asserting that 'congressional rules "created by just ordinary people" are "like the Lilliputians tying us to the ground" ' reveals an underlying disdain for the ordinary people. Ordinary people, whom, he later claims are part of his roots.

Is there compassion for the ordinary people, for Lilliputians in those tears?

Let's look at a few statistics:

On Poverty:
According to the US Census 2000 31.1 million people live in poverty, 40% of them are children

On Homelessness:
It is estimated that 760,000 people are homeless on any given night, and 1.2 to 2 million people experience homelessness during one year. (Ref: National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, via the National Coalition for the Homeless)

On Health Insurance:
The failure of small- and medium-sized employers to add coverage is one reason the number of Americans without health insurance has increased from 39 million in 1994 to 44 million in 1998, employee benefits experts say. Though more Americans are working today, many of the new jobs do not include insurance benefits. Claretian Publications

On Welfare:
Forty-seven percent of welfare recipients had no job when they were terminated. Forty-three percent who had a job when they were terminated only had part-time work. And two-thirds received Food Stamps and/or Medicaid while they were ineligible for cash aid. (Ref:HandsNet, Welfare Law Center) Institute for Research on Poverty

And yet, despite the expression of compassionate conservatism, the 2003 budget as presented by the Bush Administration, significantly cuts funding to programs that would help those in greatest need. Funding that would gie them a hand-up and out of the ditches.

Cry your crocodile tears, Mr. O'Neill. Men, women and children are still living and dying in ditches while your compassion extends no further than the corporate boardroom.

These "ordinary people", these "Lilliputians" are the very backbone of our country and a resource that should not be left in the ditches. These "ordinary people", these "Lilliputians", are the very people that built this country, that serve in our military, that work in our factories, that die on the battlefields and the streets of our country everyday.

To characterize them as being no better than insignificant ants is an insult to the ideals and principles that founded our country. You should be ashamed of yourself, and those tears should be tears of shame.

Yet, I fear your tears are only those of a crocodile.


The Radical Ratdog is a 12 year old politically aware canine of Chihuahua-Terrier ethnicity. Her BITE is worse than her bark.

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