Thursday, September 15, 2005

Santorum Backs AIDS Scam - calls Aids part of "War on Terror"

U2 Neophobia - U2 Vertigo Tour 2005: "The Millennium Challenge Account, announced with such fanfare, now proceeded to sink to the bottom of the administration's priority list. Only in early 2004, two years from the announcement, did the president sign the law creating the body. The first executive director, Paul Applegarth, was a complete unknown who impressed scarcely anyone. Congress appropriated only $1.3 billion for the first year and $1.5 billion for the second. This year President Bush asked for $3 billion rather than the $5 billion he had once promised; and Congress may appropriate little more than half that. Why should legislators do otherwise? Since the corporation has disbursed a grand total of $400,000 to date, there's no evidence that it works.

Administration officials and legislators give various explanations, none terribly persuasive, for the dilatory pace. Senator Rick Santorum, who has been one of Bono's key conservative allies, says that he has tried to persuade White House officials that the M.C.A. is "part of our war on terror" and should be financed accordingly. But when Santorum tries to push the budget director, Joshua Bolten, he says, he hears "the 'Jerry Maguire' answer: 'Show me the money.' " Bolten is another White House Friend of Bono, and he, too, speaks of aid as "an integral part of the national-security strategy." But when I asked him what happened to the Millennium Challenge Account, he said that it fell between budget cycles."

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