web counter Media Lies: The stage is set

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

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The stage is set

President Bush has submitted his budget to Congress, and these are the arguments that will be used against it.
President Bush on Monday proposed a $2.57 trillion budget that slashes domestic programs from farm aid to housing grants for the poor, as he sought to curb budget deficits that have soared on his watch.

Democrats derided Bush's plan as a "hoax" because it excludes future costs for the Iraq conflict and massive borrowing required for his proposal to add private investment accounts to Social Security.

Bush, who inherited a budget surplus that switched to record shortfalls, wants to show Wall Street and fiscal conservatives he is serious about tackling deficits.

The president's plan would cut discretionary domestic spending outside national security by 0.7 percent for fiscal year 2006 and keep it essentially flat for five more years.

"It's a budget that eliminates redundancy," Bush told reporters after a meeting with his Cabinet. "It's a lean budget."

But Democrats accused Bush of forcing the poor to absorb the brunt of the budget pain after giving billions of dollars of tax cuts to the rich in his first presidential term.
Historically, the word "cuts" has mean "not the increase we wanted". Is that the case with this budget? Or are these really cuts — the English definition being "reductions"?

If the administration's description is accurate, this budget will cut and eliminate some programs while restraining growth in others.
  • The 2006 Budget funds efforts to defend the homeland, transform our military for the 21st Century, support our troops as they fight the War on Terror, spread freedom throughout the world, promote high standards in our schools, and continue the pro-growth economic policies that have helped to produce millions of new jobs.
  • Meanwhile, overall discretionary spending grows by only 2.1% under the President's Budget — less than the projected rate of inflation — even with significant increases in defense and homeland security. Non-security discretionary spending is reduced by nearly 1% — the first such proposed cut since the Reagan Administration.
  • The Budget contains more than 150 reductions and terminations of non-defense discretionary programs, saving over $20 billion in 2006. The Budget also contains $137 billion in savings over 10 years in mandatory spending.
  • By holding Federal programs to a firm test of accountability and focusing resources on top priorities, we are taking the steps necessary to achieve the President's deficit-reduction goals. With the Budget submitted by the President, the deficit is forecast to fall from 3.5% of GDP in 2005 to 3% in 2006, and to 1.5% by 2009, well below the 40-year historical average of 2.3% of GDP.
It remains to be seen how much the budget passed by Congress will look like this one, but you can be assured there will be much bloodletting and overheated rhetoric before the dust has settled. Not mentioned in this report is what programs are being cut or eliminated entirely.

The devil is in the details, and we will no doubt be reading those details over the following days.

UPDATE: Fox reports Democrats' reaction to the proposed budget.
"This budget is part of the Republican plan to cut Social Security benefits while handing out lavish tax breaks for multimillionaires," said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. "Its cuts in veterans programs, health care and education reflect the wrong priorities and its huge deficits are fiscally irresponsible."

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called the Bush budget proposal "fiscally irresponsible, morally irresponsible and a failure of leadership."

"The president's budget is a hoax on the American people. The two issues that dominated the President's State of the Union Address — Iraq and Social Security — are nowhere to be found in this budget," Pelosi said in a statement.

"Further, the budget should be a statement of our national values, but this budget is an assault on our values," she added, referring to cuts for first-responders, community policing initiatives and education and health care cuts.
Reid's statement about "lavish tax breaks for multimillionaires" is the worst kind of demogoguery. If you examine the tax tables, it's self-evident that the richest people in America pay the lion's share of the taxes.

If Democrats think budget deficits are fiscally irresponsible, as Reid says, then perhaps they should restrain their spending and submit a balanced budget to the White House.