After whining about John Kerry's loss, I took a few months off. It was a time for introspection, a time to recalibrate my moral compass. I found myself perusing Barnes & Noble for copies of the latest from Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter. I put down my New York Times, picked up the The Wall Street Journal and tuned in Rush.

And then it dawned on me: I'm a Republican. It's an aspect of my personality I've kept closeted for years, as if I were a gay man pretending to be straight, except gay men are perverts so it's not exactly like that.

Privatize Social Security? Count me in. Cut taxes? Yes, please. Find another other third-world dictatorship to destroy? 'K.

Since I'm freshly down with the Dubya, I was very excited to discover which government programs might be on the chopping block. As Fox News reported, the budget is severely in the red – damn Bill Clinton to hell! – and raising taxes isn't an option.

Were I still a liberal, I might point out that Bush's budget doesn't account for some $80 billion he wants to continue liberating Iraq and Afghanistan, and that the budget also excludes money we'd need to cover the conversion to Social Security personal accounts. I'd probably also point out that it would cost nothing to simply cut the Social Security tax on younger workers by 4 percent and let those kids do what they want with the money – save it, invest it, get a boob job, whatever. But I'm not a liberal, so I won't mention the above. And the fact is, Bush says he wants to halve the deficit by 2009.

Some pundits say there's no way Congress will actually make the cuts Bush wants, or that when wars, Social Security and the new Medicare prescription benefit are factored in it will be impossible for Bush's deficit goal to become reality. A plague on their houses.

Bush has the answer. It's in his budget, if you read between the lines: Screw the poor! There, I said it. My colleagues on the right have been dancing around that sentence for weeks, using phrases like "personal responsibility" and "ownership society." That's what we say to keep the elite off our backs. Let's say what we really mean: Screw the poor.

Vice President Dick Cheney is still playing the appeasement game: "It's not something we've done with a meat ax, nor are we suddenly turning our backs on the most needy people in our society," he told Fox News Sunday. We'd all be better off if he had just acknowledged that the poor are poor because they are lazy, stupid, shiftless and weak. They've been a burden and a drain on America for too long.

I happen to work right across the street from a shiny new bus station, built with tax dollars, that serves the poor because they won't get jobs and buy cars. Public transportation encourages them to keep smoking crack and asking for handouts.

Instead of subsidizing the poor, let's starve the systems that keep them poor. Not helping is really a form of helping them, you see. President Bush calls it "compassionate conservatism." I call it common sense.

According to the Associated Press, Bush's proposed 2006 budget cuts money for low-income school districts, including $440 million in Safe and Drug-Free School grants; $500 million in education technology grants; $225 million for literacy programs and $280 million for inner-city youth programs. That's a lot of love, people.

Bush will also chop $540 million out of a $600 million grant program for police agencies, which spend a healthy chunk of their time policing – you guessed it – poor people. You ever seen an episode of Cops shot in MetroWest? Didn't think so.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs will lose $100 million, primarily from its efforts to build new schools. (Don't get me started on the Bureau of Indian Affairs.) We'll also be cutting a program that helps poor old people heat their homes in the winter. But if they'd worked a little harder, or longer, and saved some money, they wouldn't need help heating their houses. And thank God we'll finally be rid of Amtrak, slashing $20 million for high-speed rail development and $250 million more for railroad rehabilitation, according to the Washington Post. Why do we need trains when we have perfectly good freeways?

We're going to cut $100 million for land and water conservation, which admittedly has little to do with the poor, but they are the ones always bellyaching about living on landfills and their kids getting cancer and yada yada yada. And we'll be well rid of a migrant and seasonal worker training program, not to mention a $143 million program that helps communities destroy substandard housing.

Closer to home, Orlando city officials are "worried" about changes to 18 housing assistance programs, including Community Development Block Grants, which account for about $5.6 billion the feds give to cities for economic, housing and infrastructure development in poor neighborhoods. The city currently gets about $2.5 million a year in CDBG funds. Bush wants to cut the programs by 33 percent. Orlando housing director Lelia Allen says the CDBG program might be cut by as much as 40 percent.

"With us putting a lot of re-emphasis in the redevelopment of Parramore," Allen says, "if we don't have that funding, that would be a major loss in terms of leveraging private dollars."

And then there's the Hope VI program, which uses federal grants to turn slums into mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhoods, the kind of thing city planners love. Orlando has used the grants twice, to the tune of about $26 million. Bush wants that program gone. Allen says the city's lobbyists will be doing their best to keep these programs intact.

We've coddled paupers for far too long. We're at war. Iran is a serious threat to our national security that must be dealt with. We have a Social Security crisis. Screw the poor.

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