Poll watch: Summer slip
Before he left on vacation at the beginning of August, Bush had experienced a minor rebound in the polls after several weeks of static figures. But two polls have shown his approval rating has slipped during his extended stay in Crawford, Texas.
According to the latest USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll, conducted from Aug. 24-26, 55 percent of Americans now approve of the job Bush is doing as president, a minor slip from the 57 percent approval he received in a prior survey. Fox News also shows Bushs job approval at 55 percent in its Aug. 22-23 poll, a four-point drop from the 59 percent mark he achieved in late July.
In early August, a Gallup poll suggested that 55 percent of Americans felt that a month was too long for the president to be on vacation from the White House, and the Bush team responded by scheduling several quick trips for the president during his second week in Texas. But the presidents public schedule diminished considerably in subsequent vacation days.
Both the USA Today/CNN/Gallup and Fox polls have a margin of error of 3 points.
Bush job approval
Down from 57 percent, Aug. 16-19
Down from 59 percent, July 25-26
Down from 52 percent, July 18-22
Up from 54 percent, May 29 to June 3
Up from 52 percent, May 23-24
"Good heavens, no. That doesn't make any sense."
--Bush chief economic advisor Lawrence Lindsey on whether Bush might reconsider his budget in light of the disappearing surplus
Despite the Bush administration's efforts to put the best spin possible on the shrunken surplus, the consensus among Democrats, economists and even those in the White House is that the president has clearly broken his original promise to leave the Social Security surplus untouched.
Bush has only one more full day of rest in Crawford, Texas, but both sides in Congress have already been working to fix the blame on each other, should the budget go bust. Democrats are already claiming Bush will either have to raise taxes or cut spending. The president's increase in the defense budget seems to be in the most danger of falling prey to Democratic deficit hawks, but Bush's education reform plan is also on the line.
And now there's finger pointing over the finger pointing. Critics of Social Security argue that the dispute over the surplus proves a need for a plan that brings the federal retirement fund's resources in line with the expectations of most Americans. Meanwhile, critics of Bush's tax cut package warn that the fight is a political sideshow, and that the real fiscal danger will come in later years, after all $1.35 trillion of the cuts have gone into effect.
On a counterintuitive note: Thanks to the magic of creative accounting, technically, the deficit continues to decline, even as politicians are fretting over the shrinking surplus. And, contrary to the calls for fiscal austerity, many economists suggest that increased spending is just what a nation needs during a time of limited growth.
And don't miss the Bush administration balancing domestic politicking with its role in the U.N. Days after Secretary of State Colin Powell bowed out of the U.N. conference on racism, citing the gathering's hostility to Israel, other administration officials dithered over participating in a U.N. special session on children, because language in the final resolution could endorse groups that offer abortion counseling. The White House has agreed to go forward with the session, but has reiterated its concern about abortion rights language.
Wednesday schedule: Bush will travel in Texas, attending the dedication of San Jose Grist Mill, a Catholic mission.
This day in Bush history
Aug. 29, 1997: Texas Gov. George W. Bush comes under criticism for allegedly responding to inquiries from Texas citizens with fundraising letters. At least two Texans claim they received letters requesting contributions to Bush's campaign shortly after sending their own letters to the governor's office. Bush aides insist that the fundraising letters were not paid for with taxpayer funds, and were unrelated to the citizens' previous requests.
Bush league: At the president's side
Can you judge who's in and who's out in the Bush Cabinet based on who he'll be seen with in public? Considering that administration problem child Christine Todd Whitman has had just as many joint appearances with the president as Texas buddy Don Evans (six total), that might not be the truest barometer. Still, what does it tell us about poor Norm Mineta (a whopping one photo op)?
For your discussion, below are the number of Cabinet-level members of the Bush staff, ranked by the number of joint appearances with their fearless leader to date:
Secretary of State Colin Powell: 9
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson: 7
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham: 6
Commerce Secretary Donald Evans: 6
EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman: 6
Labor Secretary Elaine Chao: 5
Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill: 5
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: 5
Education Secretary Rod Paige: 4
Attorney General John Ashcroft: 4
Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman: 3
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez: 3
Interior Secretary Gale Norton: 3
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice: 3
Veterans Secretary Anthony Principi: 2
Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta: 1
-- <a href="mailto:ali
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