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H-BS Special: Election Watch 2004

Testifying before the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, Federal Reserve Chairman Allen Greenspan took aim at President Bush’s economic policies Wednesday, criticizing what he called “massive, unrestrained spending in the context of massive, unrestrained tax cuts.” In response to Greenspan’s criticisms, which adds to the choruses from Democratic presidential candidates who see the economy as key issue for the upcoming Presidential election, President Bush Monday outlined a bold strategy for bringing the burgeoning budget deficits created by his tax cuts under control.

“As of March 1st, we will begin outsourcing the U.S. Congress to Bangalore,” Bush announced at a press conference.

The President made the momentous announcement at the site of a Comcast call center closed last November. “Taking advantage of the global market for labor will allow us to save considerably on the cost of running the U.S. government,” he added. Estimates from the General Accounting Office (GAO) put the cost of Congressional salaries at just over $250 million, or roughly $500,000 per legislator including benefits and pension, as compared with 10,000 rupees (or roughly $3000) for a member of the Indian Parliament. If salaries of Congressional and Senatorial staff are included, as well as relevant back office costs, the savings could top nearly $2 billion dollars. “And that is for Congress alone,” noted Whitehouse Press Secretary Scott McClellan, who hinted that the President was considering a far broader outsourcing plan. “I am indeed hinting that the President is considering a far broader outsourcing plan,” he added.

Some members of congress expressed concern at the president’s vision, in particular the planned phasing of the outsourcing. The President’s plan would begin with a pilot which would send the jobs of all Democratic members of the Senate and House to India in advance of the November election. Senator John Kerry (D-MA), the Democratic frontrunner to challenge Bush in the 2004 Presidential election, expressed his doubts as he campaigned in Texas in days before the “Super Tuesday” primaries which would likely solidify his position as the Democratic Presidential nominee. “This President’s fiscal recklessness has created the largest federal deficit ever, and sending the problem to India will not get us out, he said to a cheering audience.” When asked what he would do instead, Senator Kerry offered the non-sequitor, “I served with valor in Vietnam,” later adding, “nanny nanny boo-boo.”

Sources close to the administration were also skeptical of the plan. “This reminds me of when [President Bush] proposed we could further peace in the Middle East by moving the residents of the West Bank and Gaza to Lebanon, Pennsylvania, Arab, Alabama, or Palestine, Texas,” said once source close to the President. “He seemed to think they would not notice the difference, but thank God Colin [Powell] prevailed.”

But the President appeared unmoved by criticism of his plan, saying, “my administration believes strongly in free trade and labor mobility, and India has an incredible pool of talented Indians, who are, I might add, as talented as our Indians.” He continued, “their commend of the English language will make India a hopefuller country and a strong partner for America’s wellness being.” At that, Whitehouse Press Secretary Scott McClellan hung himself.

February 17, 2004
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