Just One of the Guys

[NOTE: I originally posted this Saturday morning, but since I think it's an important story, and to avoid it being buried in low weekend traffic, the way the administration attempted to bury it in the weekend news cycle, I'm putting it back up to the top for a bit.]

In an interesting little bit of news that got released to the media on a Friday so that the average American wouldn’t notice as s/he headed out the door to spend her/his hard-earned paycheck in the weekend ritual known as rampant consumerism (see also: patriotism), it was reported that “regular guy” George Bush and his simple librarian wife Laura disclosed ownership of as much as $18 million in assets.

This is according to the federal financial disclosure forms, annual filing of which is required of all executive branch officials, which the White House released yesterday. (Another bit of recent Friday news regarding the President’s mysterious financials you may have missed was the April 22 report that Bush’s listed address on his tax returns is not in Washington, D.C., or even Crawford, TX, but instead a post office box in Chicago—Post Office Box 803968, Chicago, IL 60680, to be exact—which is the downtown post office box of Northern Trust Corp., a multinational holding company that manages hundreds of billions of dollars, including the President’s blind trust. Never mind that the IRS does not allow post office boxes to be used on tax returns unless you don’t receive mail delivery at your home address; it’s not the President broke the law, no sir. You can’t break the law if you’re above the law.)

Anyway, back to the original story. The forms require only an indication of dollar ranges for the value of assets, so the President’s assets were listed as falling within a range of $7.8 and $18.1 million. The Vice President’s assets were listed as falling within a range of $16.6 million and $75.5 million, including “cash, investments, deferred compensation from Halliburton Co., stock options, salaries and retirement benefits.” Yowza.

They were also required to report gifts, which included $650 gold cuff links, a $400 pocketknife, and a $2,700 mountain bike from John Burke, the president of Trek Bicycle Corp for the President (which he’ll no doubt put to use during many national crises in the future), and a $1,600 painting, a $120 pen, and a $400 fly-fishing set for the Vice President (which he’ll no doubt put to use during many getaways with his good pal and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia).

Another interesting tidbit:
The biggest asset Cheney disclosed this year was a $5 million to $25 million stake in the Vanguard Short-Term Tax- Exempt Fund, which fell 0.8 percent in 2004. The fund invests in municipal bonds with an average maturity of less than five years and provides income that is exempt from U.S. personal income taxes.
The cited fund is a very conservative investment, which, as Mr. Shakes noted, seems indicative of an investor who doesn’t have much faith in the market at the moment. Interesting choice for a guy who’s going around telling the American people what a great idea it is for them to invest their earnings in private accounts.

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