THERE IS no truth-in-advertising law for presidential speeches. If there were, President Bush's push in his State of the Union address last week for turning over $15 billion in federal grant programs to the 50 states would carry a boldface disclaimer: Caution. This gimmick has been tried before, usually means less money for the states and has not swept away many bureaucratic cobwebs.
Though Bush proclaimed grants would be "fully funded," top officials admit the money would be frozen at $15 billion in future years, effectively cutting the grants while inflation eats at their value.
So why propose it? Because governors have been pressuring the White House to consolidate federal grants. And the White House thinks this will placate them. In reality, no Trojan horse was ever more suspicious.