Got to cut something, if you're offering the old SKU for a lower price, and haven't made any serious advancements in hardware.
Maybe MS found people didn't like HDTV, and are, in fact, giving them what they want. You didn't get composite cables with your Elite, as you said... think of all the poor Elite buyers who were mad, because they had to run out and buy some for their old 480i SD TV. ;)
Less is the new more, if you hadn't heard.