Center for American Progress

We’ve Got 99 Problems, But A Human-Animal Hybrid Ain’t One

We’ve Got 99 Problems, But A Human-Animal Hybrid Ain’t One

A Look at the Biggest Winners and Biggest Losers Under the Bush Administration

As Bush’s days of power draw to a close, one thing is clear: We’ve got a lot more problems now than we did seven years ago. Read MicCheck Radio's list of 99 of them.

MicCheck Radio is a free, daily radio prep service which combines politics, research, entertainment, and gossip. Our approach paparazzi politics makes filtering today’s news stories fast and fun. Use it to read everything you need to know to sound brilliant, gain instant popularity, and become an instant Washington insider—or at least sound like one. MicCheck Radio is a product of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

As President Bush’s days of power draw to a close, one thing is clear: We’ve got a lot more problems now than we did seven years ago. Here are 99 of them, everything from less money to more war and a planet in crisis. It’s not a comprehensive list, so we have one question for you:

What’s your problem?

Email us at and join the conversation.

Economic Problems

Problem: Staggering National Debt
After declining significantly during the 1990s, the combination of expensive Bush tax cuts and reckless spending pushed the national debt from $5.7 trillion in 2001 to $9.2 trillion in 2008. [Department of Treasury]

Problem: Poverty
There are 4.9 million more Americans living in poverty today than there were in 2000. [EPI]

Problem: Bankruptcies
A total of 603,139 Americans filed for bankruptcy in the first three quarters of 2007, a 40.15 percent increase over the same period in 2006. [American Bankruptcy Institute] [Consumer Affairs]

Problem: Foreclosures
In the third quarter of 2007, there were 635,159 foreclosure filings in the United States. When you crunch the numbers, that’s one foreclosure filing for every 196 U.S. households. That’s 100 percent more than in the same period of 2006. [Daily Herald]

Problem: Credit Card Debt
Today, Americans owe more than $813 billion in credit card debt. Additionally, Americans are falling behind on their credit card payments at an alarming rate, sending delinquencies and defaults surging by double-digit percentages in the last year and prompting warnings of worse to come. [American Progress] [MSNBC]

Problem: High Gas Prices
The average price of a gallon of gas has skyrocketed, from $1.39 a gallon in January 2000 to $3.07 a gallon in January 2007. [Energy Information Administration]

Problem: Freezing Families
In 2008, the average U.S. household will have to spend $986 to heat their homes in winter, up 11 percent from the year before. Millions of the elderly and poor rely on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to heat their homes, yet in 2007, President Bush asked Congress to slash funding for LIHEAP by $379 million. [Associated Press]

Problem: Starvation
According to the USDA, the number of hungry families in the United States rose 26 percent between 2001 and 2006. Worse, the number of families with the least access to enough food rose 32 percent. That’s 1.3 million American families, not including the homeless. [USDA]

Problem: Sorry, We Meant to Say “Low Food Security”
In 2006 the U.S. Department of Agriculture attempted to sugarcoat the hunger issue by banning the word “hunger” from official documents, replacing it with the more opaque “very low food security.” [Washington Post]

Problem: Small Businesses Struggle
Under the Bush administration, corporate giants like Microsoft and Wal-Mart managed to finagle $12 billion in small business grants from the federal government. Federal law says, based on population, small businesses must receive 23 percent of federal contracts. The government claims at least a quarter of federal contracts are going to help small business owners (small business = one employing fewer than 100 people), but in reality, it’s more like 5 percent. [Globe and Mail]

War Problems

Problem: Surge Failure
In January 2007, President Bush announced a plan to send a 20,000-troop “surge” to Iraq to quell the violence and provide military cover while the Iraqi government took over the ruling of its own nation. The U.S. military was able to staunch much of the violence in the country—though at the price of 896 American troops killed in 2007—but the Iraqi government remains in chaos. The Iraq Inspector General calls government corruption “the second insurgency,” Parliament rarely is able to get a quorum together to conduct business, and even the Iraqi Minister of Defense says the government will be unable to take over its own security until at least 2012. [Chicago Tribune] [The Guardian]

Problem: Iraq Reconstruction in Shambles
Despite spending $488 billion (so far) on the Iraq war, many of the U.S.-led reconstruction projects in Iraq, fraught with corruption, security problems, and inept contractors, “have been abandoned, delayed or poorly constructed.” Hospitals, prisons, and police training centers were all abandoned, while the guard-house for the U.S. Embassy became such a toxic fire hazard, they had to evacuate everyone who tried to move in. [Boston Globe] [International Herald Tribune] [National Priorities Project]

Problem: The Taliban’s Resurgence
Today, Al Qaeda along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border is back to pre-9/11 strength. The Taliban increased the number of roadside and suicide bomb attacks in 2007 to the highest level since the war in Afghanistan began. The two groups are flush with money from the Afghanistan opium trade, which “grew by 17 percent in 2007, reaching record levels for the second straight year.” [Mic Check] [USA Today]

Problem: Afghan Women Still Live in Fear
Despite a new constitution that enshrines women’s rights, insufficient resources devoted to the war in Afghanistan mean “the state cannot protect women and ensure that they can go about their work safely.” In some regions controlled by the resurgent Taliban, they “have restricted possible employment, education and health care opportunities for women, often resorting to violence to enforce their edicts.” [Quazen]

Problem: Refusing Iraqi Refugees
The number of Iraqis fleeing their homes quadrupled over 2007, bringing the totals to “2.3 million internally displaced persons within Iraq, and over 2.3 million Iraqis who have fled the country.” The United States took in only 7,000. [CNN]

Health Care Problems

Problem: Expensive and Inefficient Health Care
In 2006, America’s health care costs spiraled to an all-time high of over $2 trillion (or $7,026 per person). In a report by the World Health Organization, America ranks 37th in health care quality, despite spending more per person than any other country in the world. [LA Times] [WHO]

Problem: No Health Insurance
There were 47 million Americans living without health insurance in 2006; that’s 8.6 million more uninsured than there were in 2000. [EPI]

Problem: Government in Bed with Drug Companies
An independent report found that from October 2005 to December 2006, “Food and Drug Administration officials met 112 times with industry representatives but only five times with consumer and patient groups.” According to Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), “the FDA has essentially become the government affairs office of the pharmaceutical industry." [USA Today]

Problem: Medicare Cheats Off the Hook
A 2007 audit by the Government Accountability Office showed private insurance companies pocketed $59 million in overpayments from Medicare that instead should have gone to better benefits and lower co-payments or lower premiums for older Americans. At the same time, the White House a) refused to audit these companies and b) refused to try to recover the missing money. [NY Times]

Problem: Seniors Can’t Afford Their Meds
In April 2007, Bush refused to sign a Senate bill that would have allowed Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices from pharmaceutical companies. [Reuters]

Problem: Blocked Stem Cell Research
In 2001, Bush placed a federal ban on future funding of embryonic stem cell research, which holds the promise of developing cures for Parkinson’s, juvenile diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and other degenerative diseases. In 2006, he used his veto pen for the first time to kill a bill expanding funding for stem cell research. In 2007, he again vetoed the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. [Time] [MSNBC] [Time]

Problem: Cheating the Disabled
Social Security’s draconian standards keep even the “severely disabled” from receiving Social Security disability benefits. The source of the problem? A poorly managed agency where there are “doctors making decisions outside their specialties, and inexperienced examiners under pressure to keep costs down.” [CBS]

Problem: Manipulating Access to Health Info
In 2002, the National Cancer Institute posted on their Web site the scientific conclusion that there was no link between abortion and breast cancer. The White House removed the analysis and replaced it with a statement which “erroneously suggested that whether abortion caused breast cancer was an open question with studies of equal weight supporting both sides.” [House Government Oversight]

Planet Problems

Problem: Blocking International Efforts
At the beginning of his presidency, Bush blocked the Kyoto Protocol, a landmark global agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions signed by 174 other nations. Then, at the 2007 G8 summit, U.S. negotiators attempted to water down the language of a different international climate change declaration. [USA Today] [Washington Post]

Problem: Sticking Poor Countries with the Bill
Countless reports have said that poor, developing nations will bear the brunt—think: drought, famine, floods, and disease—of climate change. Yet, at the recent climate change talks in Bali, U.S. delegates tried to block a proposal that would require rich nations to do more to help poor nations fight global warming. [Der Spiegel]

Problem: Killing Us with Carbon Emissions
After President Bush pledged a cap on carbon emissions in 2000, Vice President Cheney filled the White House Committee on Environmental Quality with industry representatives. Following their appointment, the group released a report saying “the current state of scientific knowledge about causes of and solutions to global warming is inconclusive” and no caps were needed. [Rolling Stone]

Problem: Killing the Polar Bears
In January of 2008, the Bush administration missed a deadline requiring a final decision on whether to give polar bears—often the poster children of global warming—federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Geological Survey’s September report, meanwhile, found that melting Arctic sea ice could wipe out polar bears in Alaska and kill off two-thirds of the species’ global population. [ABC]

Problem: Destruction of the Alaskan Wilderness
Also in January of 2008, the federal government decided to open up nearly 46,000 square miles off Alaska’s northwest coast to petroleum leases, available in February. Goodbye wildlife, hello oil spills. [AP]

Problem: The EPA vs. California
At the end of 2007, head of the EPA Stephen Johnson denied California’s quest for a waiver from the Clean Air Act to allow the state and up to 17 others to set stricter regulations on automobile pollution. Senate investigators later found EPA scientists and career staffers fought for the EPA to grant California’s waiver. [Kansas City Star] [AP]

Problem: Melting the Arctic Ice
Thanks to global warming, the Arctic Sea ice has decreased nearly 20 percent in the past 20 years. [USA Today]

Racial Problems

Problem: Ignoring Civil Rights
The Bush administration changed the civil rights mission of the Justice Department “by aggressively pursuing religion-oriented cases while significantly diminishing its involvement in the traditional area of race.” [NY Times]

Problem: Affirmative Action Under Siege
Bush has consistently attacked affirmative action policies in higher education, including suing the University of Michigan for taking race into account in its admissions process. [CNN]

Problem: Rolling Back Brown v. Board of Education
A half century ago, with the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ordered the nation’s schools to desegregate. In 2007, with two of President Bush’s Court appointees in the 5-4 majority, the Roberts Court rolled back desegregation, ruling local officials “cannot take modest steps to bring public school students of different races together.” [NY Times]

Problem: African Americans Without Health Care
Since 2000, the percent of African Americans without health insurance has increased from 18.5 percent to 20.5 percent. [Census Bureau]

Problem: Hispanics Without Health Care
In 2006, there were 15.3 million uninsured Hispanics in the United States, an estimated 3.4 million of whom are children. [Census Bureau]

Problem: Disparities in Cancer Treatment
The American Cancer Society finds that, while cancer deaths may be dropping, that statistic does not apply to African Americans. Experts cite inadequate access to quality health care for minorities as one of the main reasons for the tragedy. [Reuters]

Problem: Minorities and Mortgages
Experts are calling the current economic crisis “the greatest loss of wealth for communities and individuals of color in modern U.S. history.” Black and Hispanic homeowners could lose up to $256 billion in the subprime mortgage crisis. [Boston Herald]

Problem: Blocking Immigrants Seeking Citizenship
At the onset of 2007, the Bush administration jacked up immigration fees by more than 80 percent, shooting up the cost of applying for citizenship to $595. Also, today more than 1.4 million legal permanent residents are facing an 18-month delay in their citizenship applications due to administrative backlogs. [Washington Post]

Regulation Problems

Problem: Toxic Lack of Prosecution of Polluters
Under the current administration, the EPA sharply decreased the prosecution of criminal cases against polluters. New prosecutions, new investigations, and total convictions all plummeted by a third. [Washington Post]

Problem: Toxic Arsenic in Our Drinking Water
In April 2007, Bush waited until Congress went into recess to appoint Susan Dudley to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Dudley, “who made no secret of her hostility toward government regulation,” was a corporate insider who said the EPA “should not value the lives of older people as highly as the lives of younger people when calculating the effect of arsenic in drinking water.” [NY Times] [LA Times]

Problem: Toxic, Mutating Weed Killer in the Water
The White House has fought against regulating the weed killer atrizine, even though the chemical has seeped into U.S. water supplies and created a new mutant breed of hermaphroditic frog. They have no idea what effect the chemical has on humans besides the higher prostate cancer rate among those men who work around the chemical. [Washington Post]

Problem: Toxic Air at Ground Zero
In September 2001, just days after the attacks on the World Trade Center, the White House pressured the EPA to delete warnings from a press release about air quality at Ground Zero and falsely reassure the public that the air was safe to breathe. Later studies show roughly 70 percent of workers from Ground Zero now suffer from respiratory illnesses. [NY Times] [NY Times]

Problem: Toxic Air on the Highways
In November 2007, a federal appeals court threw out the federal government’s fuel efficiency standards for trucks because they were a) too weak and b) broke the law, as they “didn’t properly assess the risk to the environment and failed to include heavier SUVs and trucks, among several other deficiencies the court found.” [MSNBC]

Problem: Testing Pesticides on Kids
The EPA used camcorders to bribe parents into offering up their toddlers as guinea pigs for a study about the dangers of pesticides on children. The study was paid for in part by the chemical industry. [SF Chronicle] [Washington Post]

Military Problems

Problem: A Hobbled National Guard
A congressional report found that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had worn down the National Guard so much that almost 90 percent of Army National Guard Units are “not ready … jeopardizing the Guard’s ability to respond to crises at home and abroad.” [Washington Post]

Problem: A Hobbled Marine Corps
In 2007, the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James T. Conway, said the strain of the Iraq war was forcing Marines to skip vital combat training that made up the traditional backbone of the Corps. [AP]

Problem: A Hobbled Army
After five long years in Iraq, General George Casey says the Army is “out of balance” after the military strategy in Iraq “sucked all of the flexibility out of the system.” He also said the Army is “so consumed by current operations that we can’t do the things we need to do to prepare ourselves organizationally or institutionally.” [Army News] [WSJ]

Problem: Squalid Conditions at Vet Hospitals
In 2007, a Washington Post expose revealed squalid conditions at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, including “mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, [and] cheap mattresses” in facilities for injured soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A separate investigation revealed a similar pattern of neglect and “depressing living conditions for outpatients at other military bases around the country, from Fort Lewis in Washington state to Fort Dix in New Jersey.” [Washington Post] [Washington Post]

Problem: Habeas Corpus Denied
Article One, Section Nine of the United States Constitution states the basic human right of habeas corpus can not be suspended except for cases “of rebellion or invasion.” In September 2006, at President Bush’s urging, the Republican-led Congress passed the Military Commissions Act, which stripped terror detainees of this basic right. Thirty-three former U.S. diplomats warned “to deny habeas corpus to our detainees can be seen as prescription for how the captured members of our own military, diplomatic and NGO personnel stationed abroad may be treated.” [LA Times]

Problem: Homeless Veterans
A 2007 study from the National Alliance to End Homelessness found there are nearly 200,000 homeless veterans on America’s streets. Many fought in the Vietnam War, but Veterans Affairs also found an increasing number of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan were using VA homeless shelters. [Washington Post]

Problem: Extended Tours in Iraq
In April of 2007, the Bush administration announced that it was extending troop tours from 12 months to 15 months. During these tours, the troops are only allowed a single two-week break to return to their families. []

Problem: Veteran Suicides
Fact: Male U.S. veterans are twice as likely to die by suicide than people with no military service. Tragedy: A third of returning soldiers seek mental health treatment after returning from combat, but they are welcomed home with military health insurance (TriCare) whose mental health coverage is “hindered by fragmented rules and policies, inadequate oversight and insufficient reimbursement.” [Reuters] [USA Today]

Torture Problems

Problem: White House Enables Torture
In January 2002, then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales agreed with a memo drafted by the Justice Department’s John C. Yoo, suggesting “Mr. Bush should declare the Taliban and Al Qaeda outside the coverage of the Geneva Conventions.” In August 2002, Gonzales signed off on a Justice Department memo stating extreme interrogation techniques on terror suspects abroad “may be necessary,” and dramatically narrowed the definition of “torture” to actions “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” [NY Times] [Washington Post]

Problem: Defense Department Enables Torture
In November 2002, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld approved interrogation techniques for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay. They included “‘removal of clothing’ and ‘inducing stress by use of detainee’s fears (e.g. dogs)’” and “stress positions.” [USA Today]

Problem: The Horrors at Abu Ghraib
In August 2003, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller was sent from the prison at Guantanamo Bay to the prison at Abu Ghraib to help “get more information out of Iraqi prisoners.” Once there, he encouraged harsh interrogation methods, including the “use of dogs.” Later, once reports of gross abuse at the prison surfaced, Major General Antonio Mario Taguba, in his classified report, “blames Miller’s policies.” Miller then won the “Distinguished Service Medal.” No officers have ever been convicted of a crime concerning the atrocities. [Washington Post] [MSNBC] [Army News]] [USA Today]

Problem: Guantanamo Bay
Since opening its doors in 2004, the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has held—and presumably tortured—more than 500 detainees. The lack of basic legal rights—such as habeas corpus—at Gitmo has been one of the White House’s biggest scandals, and has helped to ruin the U.S. reputation around the world. According to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen: “More than anything else it’s been the image—how Gitmo has become around the world, in terms of representing the United States. … I believe that from the standpoint of how it reflects on us that it’s been pretty damaging.”[American Progress] [USA Today] [AP]

Problem: Kidnappings and Secret Prisons
The United States is “secretly transferring terror suspects to locations where they have faced torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearances and indefinite detention without charge.” A 2004 Washington Post report uncovered “an elaborate CIA and military infrastructure whose purpose is to hold suspected terrorists or insurgents for interrogation and safekeeping while avoiding U.S. or international court systems.” [Amnesty International] [Washington Post]

Problem: The CIA Torture Tapes
In 2005, lawyers for the CIA gave the green light for the agency to trash hundreds of hours of videotapes documenting the interrogation—and torture—of two lieutenants from Al Qaeda, despite a previous court order requiring the government to keep all materials “regarding the torture, mistreatment and abuse of detainees” at Guantanamo. The tapes allegedly included waterboarding, a practice the U.S. military has prosecuted as torture since the Spanish American war. [NY Times] [Washington Post] [Washington Post]

Privacy Problems

Problem: Government Tapping Our Phones
Under the Bush White House, the National Security Agency illegally intercepted phone calls of countless Americans without first obtaining court warrants—a direct violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Last year, the White House strong-armed a new warrantless wire-tapping bill through Congress that gave Bush even more power—an act that Speaker Pelosi said did “violence to the Constitution.” [Washington Post]

Problem: Government Reading Our Mail, Checking Our Banks
President Bush gave himself the power to read our mail: In 2006, during the Christmas recess, President Bush quietly attached a signing statement to a postal reform bill giving the White House the authority to open U.S. mail without a warrant. The CIA and Pentagon also gave themselves the power to obtain banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans. [Washington Post] [NY Times] [NY Times]

Problem: Losing the Right to Protest
A Defense Department database, known as the Talon program, was designed to catalogue domestic threats to the Pentagon but included data on anti-war demonstrators and peaceful protestors. [Washington Post]

Power Grabbing Problems

Problem: A Presidency Above the Law
Bush has used signing statements—caveats to bills that presidents tack on when they sign them into law—to amend more than 1,100 sections of legislation. (That’s more than all other presidents combined.) Some of the more controversial signing statements: President Bush gave himself the power to bypass a law requiring the Justice Department to report to Congress about how the FBI uses the Patriot Act to search American homes. In another instance, President Bush gave himself the power to waive the congressional ban on torture. [Boston Globe]

Problem: A Vice Presidency Above the Law
In June 2007, Vice President Dick Cheney announced he did not have to comply with the law requiring members of the executive branch to report to the National Archives on information his office has classified because, according to the vice president, he was not actually part of the executive branch of the government. [Seattle P-I]

Problem: White House Quest for Secrecy
In 2000, the federal government spent $452,807 on contracts for paper shredding services. By 2006, that number skyrocketed to $2.9 million. And what they couldn’t shred, they stonewalled. Since 1998, the number of exemptions to the Freedom Of Information Act cited to support the withholding of information increased 83 percent. Two out of five FOIA requests weren’t even processed by 2006. [USA Spending] [Coalition of Journalists for Open Government]

Problem: Politicized the Office of U.S. Attorneys
After the 2004 presidential election, the Bush administration canned eight U.S. attorneys who wouldn’t play partisan ball even though many of them were working on high-profile corruption cases, and replaced them with political operatives. [NY Times]

Problem: Politicized Executive Branch
At the onset of 2006, GAO queen bee Lurita Doan threw the Hatch Act to the wind and held a video conference with a Karl Rove deputy to discuss ways to help Republican candidates. During the January 2006 meeting, Doan apparently asked J. Scott Jennings, the White House deputy political director how they “could help our candidates in the next elections.” Suggestions included “targeting public events, such as the opening of federal facilities around the country.” [Washington Post]

Problem: Politicized Scientists
In 2004, White House official Philip Cooney, chief of staff of its Council on Environmental Quality, doctored a report on global warming to downplay scientific warnings. (He now works for Exxon.) In 2006, NASA scientist James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, accused the White House of preventing his research from reaching the public. In October 2007, the administration altered a draft of congressional testimony to be given by Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on the negative health implications of climate change. According to a CDC source, her testimony was “eviscerated.” [AP] [NY Times] [Washington Post]

Problem: Pre-War Deception
In the two years after 9/11, Bush and senior administration officials made 935 false statements alleging Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and attempting to connect Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda. A non-partisan study by the Center for Public Integrity said they represented “an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.” [Center for Public Integrity]

Problem: Outed Covert CIA Agent
Bush administration officials leaked the identity of Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA agent, in order to discredit the work of her husband, Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, after Wilson exposed the White House was bending the truth on Saddam’s quest for WMD. [NY Times]

Problem: Fake News
The Department of Health and Human Services got caught producing fake “news” segments on the prescription drug benefit that were “sent to TV stations, along with government-prepared scripts for news anchors to read.” In 2005, the Department of Education was discovered paying conservative commentator Armstrong Williams to write columns promoting No Child Left Behind. In October 2007, the Department of Homeland Security staged a fake press conference (complete with staffers posing as reporters) to offer a glowing report of how well they handled the California wildfires. [USA Today] [San Francisco Chronicle]

Problem: Criminals in the White House
Bush’s top procurement official and former chief of staff of the General Services Administration, David Safavian, pleaded guilty in 2006 to lying about his shady dealings with Jack Abramoff, a former Republican lobbyist who showered Washington officials with gifts and dinners in exchange for information and influence. [MSNBC] [Washington Post]

Kid Problems

Problem: Kids in Poverty
There are 1.2 million more kids living in poverty today than in 2000. [EPI]

Problem: Kids Without Health Insurance
There are 8.7 million kids in the United States without health insurance (that’s 11.7 percent of all American children). In 2007, President Bush vetoed SCHIP legislation not once but twice, unwilling to raise taxes on the price of a pack of smokes to add more kids to the program. The president finally signed the legislation to extend the existing program at the end of December 2007, but the new, watered-down bill left 9 million uninsured children without coverage. [Children’s Defense Fund]

Problem: Kids Dying in the South
After years of decline, infant mortality rose sharply in Mississippi and across the south, especially among African-American families. [NY Times]

Problem: Kids with Weight Problems
In 2007, Bush asked Congress to eliminate the preventive health services block grant, “which provided $99 million a year to help states prevent obesity and other chronic conditions.” [NY Times]

Problem: Kids with Brain Damage
In 2004, White House staffers were caught having “deleted or modified information on mercury” from an EPA report to downplay the toxic health effects emissions have on the brains of babies and unborn fetuses. [NY Times]

Problem: Kids Having Kids
Bush spent over $1 billion on the federal financing of “abstinence-only” education which leaves young people without vital sexual health information and has never been shown to “prevent unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases.” In 2007, new analysis from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that, for the first time in 14 years, the teen birth rate went up, to 3 percent [CDC] [San Francisco Chronicle]

Problem: Kids Playing with Poisoned Toys
Last year, in the wake of date-rape-drug-filled AquaDots and Elmo dolls laced with lead, the White House-appointee head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Nancy Nord, sided with manufacturers and fought against measures in the Senate that would require the toy industry to tell consumers which toys were under investigation or to increase penalties against companies that knowingly violated toy safety laws.[Consumer Affairs]

Problem: Kids on Drugs
The GAO reports that a “$1.4 billion anti-drug advertising campaign conducted by the U.S. government since 1998 doesn’t appear to have helped reduce drug use and instead might have convinced some youths that taking illegal drugs is normal.” Soon after, the White House asked for $120 million more to fund it. [USA Today] [Mic Check]

Gay Rights Problems

Problem: Anti-Gay Surgeon General Nominee
In June 2007, President Bush nominated Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr. to become U.S. Surgeon General. Holsinger’s resume includes founding a church to “cure” homosexuals, penning an infamous paper about the “pathophysiology of male homosexuality” and voting on the United Methodist Church council to allow ministers to keep gay men and lesbians out of their churches. [Washington Post]

Problem: Denying Marriage Equality
In every year of the 109th Congress, President Bush urged lawmakers to pass a constitutional ban on gay marriage. (Every year, public opinion wins out and the bill fails.) [MSNBC]

Problem: Perpetuating Workplace Discrimination
In 2007, the House of Representatives passed the landmark Employment Non-Discrimination Act (or ENDA) bill, which seeks to eliminate sexual orientation-based discrimination in the workplace. This year, the Senate is looking to pass the same bill. The White House, though, has boasted that it’ll veto any version of the bill that crosses its desk. [Washington Blade]

Homeland Security Problems

Problem: Unsafe Trains
President Bush did not act to secure the “thousands of tons of highly toxic chlorine gas [that] travel by rail in the United States.” These cans, if ruptured, could “release a dense, lethal plume for miles downwind, potentially killing or injuring thousands of people.” [American Progress]

Problem: Unsafe Seaports
A study by the Department of Homeland Security found that “serious lapses by private companies at foreign and American ports, aboard ships, and on trucks and trains would enable … materials or weapons of mass destruction to be introduced.” [AP]

Problem: Unsafe Airports
Airline security is consistently the top complaint of air travelers … but it doesn’t seem to be doing much good. In airport tests, the TSA consistently fails to detect test bombs. In one example, “screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport, one of the starting points for the Sept. 11 hijackers, failed 20 of 22 security tests conducted by undercover U.S. agents.” [Seattle Times] [AP]

Problem: An Unmanageable “No-fly List”
Before 9/11, the list of people barred from plane travel in the United States topped out at 16 people. Now, it has over 44,000 names on it, plus an additional 75,000 people who should be pulled over for extra screening. On the list? Dead people, 14 of the deceased 9/11 hijackers, toddlers, a member of the U.S. Senate, and thousands of common names like “Gary Smith, John Williams or Robert Johnson.” [CBS]

Disaster Problems

Problem: Ignoring Katrina
Although President Bush was notified that the levees had been breached on August 29, 2005 (the day Hurricane Katrina made landfall) it wasn’t until aides made him watch a DVD of news reports on September 2 that the devastation actually “sank in.” New Orleans victims of the hurricane still were trapped in the dirty, crime-ridden Superdome until September 3. [AP] [Fox News] [Newsweek] [AP]

Problem: Toxic FEMA Trailers
Although they were warned more than a year before the problem became public, FEMA purposely ignored reports that the trailers they set up for families affected by Hurricane Katrina were filled with toxic, carcinogenic formaldehyde gas. More than 75,000 families lived in these trailers. [Washington Post]

Problem: Unqualified Disaster Officials
Five out of eight top FEMA officials came to their posts with no crisis management experience. Former FEMA head Michael Brown, personally appointed by Bush, was formerly head of the International Arabian Horse Association with a seriously padded resume. [Washington Post] [Time Magazine]

Problem: A Strained National Guard
The White House, unwilling to spend the money or PR to beef up the military before going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, instead leaned heavily on the National Guard and Army Reserves. As a result of this unprecedented pressure on these domestic forces, governors across the country are saying they’ve been short of both manpower and equipment in handling massive disasters and emergencies like the California wildfires, the Kansas floods and hurricane recovery. [ABC]

Diplomatic Problems

Problem: The World Doesn’t Like Us
In 2007, a Pew research poll showed that the United States was even less popular with our allies now than we were five years ago. In 2002, Britain had a 75 percent favorable rating of the United States. A year ago, it sank to 51 percent. Germany had a 60 percent favorable view of the United States in 2002; in 2007, it was 30 percent. [Pew]

Problem: Hurting Our Diplomatic Corps
President Bush slashed 10 percent of diplomatic posts around the world; in the meantime, Condoleezza Rice warned foreign service agents that they would be forced to “volunteer” in Iraq if the 250 embassy jobs weren’t filled with actual volunteers. The diplomats aren’t happy; only 18 percent of them say that Rice is doing a good job protecting their profession. [Washington Post] [Washington Post]

Problem: Inflating the Iranian Threat
In public, both President Bush and Vice President Cheney ratcheted up talk about the nuclear threat from Iran despite private intelligence reports that showed Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003. [Wall Street Journal]

Problem: Bungled Diplomacy with North Korea
In October 2006, Bush failed to prevent North Korea from becoming the first country since 1998 to conduct a nuclear test. Leading up to the big bang, Bush allowed North Korea to acquire enough plutonium for 4 to 13 weapons, stoked North Korea’s ire by naming the country part of the “Axis of Evil,” and botched diplomacy efforts, having to call back former U.N.-ambassador John Bolton for jeopardizing crucial talks by insulting North Korea just days before. [ISIS Study; FOX News; CNN]

Problem: Bringing Back Nukes
In January 2008, former State Department official Linda Gallini told reporters the Bush White House “gutted” nuclear counter-proliferation initiatives by pushing out career diplomats at the State Department and replacing them with inexperienced, ideological political appointees. The Pentagon also fought to create a new generation of American nuclear weapons, including “bunker busters” and “mini-nukes.” [UPI] [BBC]

Education Problems

Problem: Poor Kids Need a Head Start
This administration cut funds for Head Start, the national program dedicated to getting low-income kids ready for school, 11 percent since 2002. In 2007 alone, the amount cut was equal to the amount needed to include 26,500 kids. [Center On Budget And Policy Priorities]

Problem: College Students Get Overcharged
Due to an uncorrected computer error, the Department of Education caused “more than 3 million student loan borrowers to be billed hundreds of millions of dollars more than they owed.” [Washington Post]

Problem: Student Loans Slashed
President Bush attempted to get rid of the Perkins Loan program, a program which offers low-interest loans to needy students, and froze money for Pell Grants at a maximum of only $4,050 per student for six consecutive years. [NY Times] [NY Times]

Problem: Student Debt Skyrockets
Total student debt in the United States is more than $471 billion—and that’s not including private loans. What’s more, the average student today graduates with debt twice that of graduates a decade ago—and enters a job market where the average job pays them less than it would have in 2000. [Student Debt Alert] [Economic Policy Institute]

Campus Progress Video: 99 Problems with the Bush Administration


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