The president takes shelter in Xcel Center

President George W. Bush held his rally yesterday at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center. Just across highway I-35E, homeless typically make temporary shelters out of cardboard and old clothes among the sumac hills. This is both fitting and ironic, given Bush’s life has been sheltered from the harsh realities of the middle and lower classes.

More people might be seeking shelter in those hills considering Bush’s 2005 budget would likely cause more than 250,000 to lose housing vouchers, likely sending them to the streets.

At issue are Section 8 federal rent subsidies that allow poor people to pay 30 percent of their income towards rent while the government picks up the rest. Bush’s 2005 budget is $1.6 billion short of what it takes to maintain the program’s current levels, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

According to a Wilder Research Center survey, homelessness in Minnesota has gone down slightly during the past few years. But that decrease might not continue considering one leading factor in homelessness, unemployment, has increased under the Bush administration.

Bush touted his job creation and unemployment rates at yesterday’s rally. But in reality, he was attempting to cover up his poor record.

At one point the economy had hemorrhaged nearly three million jobs under Bush’s stewardship. While employment numbers improved during the first half of 2004, they have recently stagnated. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy added a paltry 32,000 jobs in July.

The government should fund programs that empower the public and make them more versatile in the job market. This was a Bush theme in the State of the Union address eight months ago, but little action has followed.

Bush consistently thinks wishfully and places positive spins on negative numbers. His policies do little to alleviate the country’s ills, especially the fundamental worries of the middle and lower classes: homelessness and unemployment.

Bush must reconsider cutting the Section 8 subsidies and look toward funding jobs programs that will help keep people from needing them.