Mar 132005

Speaking in Alabama yesterday, President Bush repeated a familiar claim: “We’re fixing the deficit.” It doesn’t matter how many times he says it ? it’s still not true. In fact, the president’s most recent proposed budget would make the federal deficit much worse. A March 4 analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reveals the president’s budget would increase the deficit by $1.6 trillion over the next ten years. Most of the additional shortfall is a result of Bush’s proposal to extend his 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the rich. According to the CBO, new tax cuts proposed by Bush “would increase the deficit by more than $1.5 trillion in 2006 through 2015.” Even these bleak numbers understate the scope of the fiscal crisis. The president’s budget excludes all costs for continued operations in Iraq and Afghanistan ? expected to cost at least $300 billion over the next 10 years ? and so do the CBO estimates. The fact is, President Bush’s policies are leaving an enormous tab that future generations will have to pick up. And he’s not being honest about it. (Share your views on the president’s budget on *

Right-wing ideologues in the Senate have taken President Bush’s uncompassionate, fiscally irresponsible budget and are making it worse. For example, the president has already drawn “sharp criticism from the nation’s governors” for proposing $7.6 billion in cuts to health care funding for the poor (Medicaid) over the next five years. Now, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee is pursuing measures that could cut Medicaid by up to “$15 billion over five years.” Nevertheless, the Senate plan still makes the deficit worse because tax cuts, along with increases in discretionary spending for defense and international affairs, “more than offset the proposed cuts in domestic programs.” In fact, over a five-year period, the Senate plan, which adds $130 billion to the deficit, is actually worse than the president’s plan, which adds a mere $104 billion over five years.

The only thing more irresponsible than the Senate proposal is the House proposal. The right-wing establishment in the House is pushing to cut health care funding for the poor by as much as $20 billion and nutrition programs for low-income families by as much as $5.3 billion. An additional $15 billion is slated to be cut from other essential programs for low-income Americans, like child care and disability assistance. Nevertheless, the House proposal provides for nearly $36 billion more in tax cuts for wealthy investors than the Senate. Like the president’s plan and the Senate proposal, it also adds to the budget deficit by over $100 billion over the next five years.

The budget priorities of the president and his right-wing allies are completely out of step with the rest of the country. A recent poll conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) found that Americans who were “presented a breakdown of the major areas of the proposed discretionary budget and given opportunity to redistribute it … made major changes.” Specifically, respondents favored “a significant reallocation toward deficit reduction, and increases in spending on education, job training, reducing reliance on oil and veterans.” Respondents favored increasing funding for the U.N. and U.N. peacekeeping “an average of 207%, or $4.8 billion.” Meanwhile, 63 percent “favored rolling back tax cuts for people with incomes over $200,000. Large majorities also favored cutting funding that financed “the capability for large scale nuclear wars, the number of nuclear weapons, and spending on developing new types of nuclear weapons.”

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