It's good the U.S. House of Representatives voted last week to restore funds for the Public Broadcasting System, but this fight highlights the much larger issue of a federal government with drastically narrowed options because of the Bush administration's disastrous tax policies.

PBS, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio have a powerful nationwide constituency of Republicans and Democrats alike. In the end, 87 Republicans joined with Democrats in giving public broadcasting back the $100 million that the GOP-controlled House Appropriations Committee had cut.

In arguing for the cut, Republican budget writers noted that it was but one of many painful cuts in federal programs that support education, health and labor initiatives. In the same spending package as public broadcasting, the president's highly touted No Child Left Behind schools program will be cut by $806 million. Other cuts affect programs for job training, low-income schools, rural health care and health coverage for the uninsured.

The problem of not having enough money to support important and popular federal programs is not some unexpected storm that sprang up out of nowhere. It is specifically and directly a result of the administration's radical policy of slashing taxes for the ultra-wealthy and slashing the government's income at the same time, a strategy referred to as "starving the beast."

In this case, the beast that is being starved encompasses much that people consider to be aspects of the federal government's core mission of protecting the disadvantaged and improving America for all citizens. Bush's protect-the-rich policies are making our nation a baser and more beastly place.

It's time for sensible Republicans and Democrats to join together in opposing this presidential attack that threatens the basic underpinnings of civil society.


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