Monday, 5 February 2007

Unbalancing the budget

Bush calls this cutting and balancing the federal budget? By lessening the over-inflated big government spending, I think not. No doubt the Iraq war dominates the budget, but still...

Washington Post:

President Bush sent to Congress a $2.9 trillion budget plan that would dramatically increase military spending -- including an extra $245 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- but squeeze federal health care programs and most domestic agencies to achieve his goal of eliminating the deficit by 2012.

The proposal seeks to make permanent the tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003, costing the Treasury an additional $374 billion over five years. And it would slice nearly $96 billion over five years from Medicare and Medicaid, the government's health care programs for the poor and the elderly. The proposal would also cut spending at eight federal agencies -- including the education, environment and interior departments -- to below fiscal 2006 levels.

Bush said his budget proposal "shows we can balance the budget in five years without raising taxes." The budget is "realistic, it's achievable and it's got good reforms in it," he said.
Credit: Washington Post
The projected five-year cost of extending Bush's tax cuts comes on top of $1.1 trillion that the cuts have already cost since 2001.
The proposed budget asks Congress for nearly $100 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in fiscal 2007 -- on top of $70 billion already provided -- and $145 billion for fiscal 2008, which begins Oct. 1. For fiscal 2009, there is a forecast of $50 billion, with no funding projections beyond that year.

I think it is pretty easy to 'balance the budget' if you cut a chunk of spending out. Too bad that chunk had to be important. It's funny that this is the president calling on Congress to be responsible with the budget. These tax cuts have been worthless, helped people who really don't need the financial help, and are overall a horrible way of gaining political capital when people are so gloomy over the economy anyways. One small group of unemployed people can make more of a poltical difference than a large group of political apathetics (of whom there are far too many in the US).

Decreasing domestic spending and important programs like those in the health care sector and social security is certainly not a wise move on behalf of this militaristic White House. This is a trend that has continued ever since this president took office — and he seems to be proud of it. What I find amazing is that the American people have OKed Bush's large defense spending and lack of attention to domestic issues, even those relating to national security (on the domesitc front)! May I point out that the Democrat's win last November was not only — contrary to many accounts — because of Iraq, but the economy, of all things, was a huge factor in what party people voted for according to exit polls. Going further this shows that not only do the vast majority of politicians vote by party lines, but even the people they represent, the voting population, do. There is also the issue of the US economy not actually being as bad as many seem to think. I have doubts over whether the Dems would have won if people had not voted for their individual candidate, judging them on their merits, and not what party they were of. I guess that's what happens in a two party system more than in a system allowing farer political representation for groups and even ideologies.

For more on President Bush's FY 2008 budget, see the US government's OMB website. Keep in mind everything from Bush's "war on terror" spending to his social security policy to his education cop-out stance.

Update: One hope for government spending transparency lies in the upcoming creation of a website that allows the public to see where their tax dollars are going. It'll be fun to call politicians — whomever they may be — on their rhetoric about the budget and spending. Of course it will also be frustrating to see Bush isn't lying too much about the earmarking Congress does, not that he doesn't prohibit pork barrel spending (he wants the people to believe that he is doing the opposite of what he is actually doing!).

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