By MARC McDONALD
While George W. Bush is spending his time pushing for a "marriage protection" constitutional amendment (which an ABC News poll this week showed that a majority of Americans oppose) here are some issues that he could be addressing instead:
1. America is going broke. Our nation's total fiscal obligation, in current dollars, now totals at least $44.2 trillion. (That's trillion, with a "T"). America's snowballing government deficit is unprecedented in world history and is so massive that it costs the U.S. over $300 billion a year just to service the debt interest.
2. Osama bin Laden roams free, and continues to rally supporters with video dispatches, nearly five years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on The World Trade Center.
3. Global warming is a ticking time bomb. The vast majority of scientists say we have only 10 years to "avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced."
4. The U.S. dollar is in jeopardy. That's the view of an increasing number of economic commentators, including the second-richest man in the world, Warren Buffett, who warns the the U.S. is at risk of becoming a "sharecropper’s society." If the dollar melts down, America's reign as a superpower will end.
5. Forecasters predict another harsh hurricane season. And despite what Bush says, the U.S. is ill-prepared.
6. The U.S. is not adequately protected from another terrorist attack. That's the view of the former Sept. 11 Commission, which in a report in December, charged the Bush White House with failing to protect the country against another terrorist attack.
7."One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed." That's not a quote from Howard Dean. It's from William F. Buckley Jr., the dean of conservative American authors, writing in National Review, the bible of American conservative thought.
8. Terrorist attacks worldwide are at an all-time high. Despite Bush's claims that "we're winning" the war on terror, the U.S. State Department reported in April that the number of terrorist attacks worldwide increased nearly fourfold in 2005 to 11,111, with strikes in Iraq accounting for 30 percent of the total. The attacks killed more than 14,600 noncombatants, including 56 Americans.
9. The most recent U.S. Census data shows that 45.8 million Americans (about 15% of the total population) had no health insurance coverage in 2004, a rise of 850,000 from the previous year. Overall U.S. health care performance is ranked 37th by the World Health Organization, far below the average of developed nations.
10. A May CBS news poll showed that Americans say "the most important problems" facing the country are: the war in Iraq (28 percent), economy/jobs (15 percent), immigration (12 percent), gas/heating oil crisis (6 percent), terrorism (5 percent), health care (4 percent), defense/military (3 percent) and Bush himself (3 percent).