Friday, November 05, 2004

So Much For The Afterglow

Following up on a previous post, I thought I'd mention Bush's initial outline for his second term. Big spending seems to be the theme, as it doesn't seem the White House has any concern to shrink the government in order to deal with growing deficits. The liberal buzz around the country right now is the thought that Bush would respond to his base first -- those religious conservatives who supported him because of his take on moral values. Proper responses would be support for Constitutional Amendments to ban gay marriage or abortion, or at the very least trumpet once again his faith based initiatives program. As we saw on Tuesday night, the voter support is there.

Instead, Bush has decided to go ahead with plans to privatize social security. The trick for Bush is, he wants to do it without cutting into benefits seniors enjoy right now. Social Security has never been an investment program -- seniors collecting social security are payed in funds provided by tax-payers today. There's no guarantee that the taxes I pay right now will be there for me when I retire because they go straight to SS recipients in the here and now. So for Bush to privatize SS without major cuts, he has to have a plan to keep benefits at the same level for seniors, while at the same time, siphoning off taxpayers funds into privatized investment accounts. In the end, this means he needs more money. Ten year estimates put it between $1 and $2 trillion.

The biggest fiscal problem with his plan: he hasn't said where he's going to get the money. It's not going to come from higher taxes, because he's made it clear he wants to make the tax cuts f 2001 and 2003 permanent. The only other option is to deficit spend -- to borrow more money from the international market in order to pay for his program. What critics are saying is, in this scenario, the price tag won't show up for another generation. Meaning, we'll be passing on the tax burden to our children, in order that we can enjoy tax cuts today. Like I've asked before, what happened to the old conservative mantra of fiscal responsibility?

My question to religious conservatives is this. When you voted for Bush, did you vote for him because he was a strong moral leader? Or did you vote for him because you agreed with his plan to privatize Social Security, deficit spending and all?

Or maybe a better way to frame the question is this. Did you realize that by voting for strong moral values, you were also voting for a president who plans to tax the future to pay for the present?

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