Thursday, February 10, 2005

Presidential first and greatest love.

There's two kinds of fun,
There's things and there's stuff,
And they just cannot get along,
Which side are you on?

Now who loves their stuff?
[unintelligible echo]
Our country has let stuff direct it,
And there we chomp, chomp at the bit.

So what does Bro. Danielson have to do with what this post is really about? Not much as far as I can tell. But I just thought it would be wicky-wicky-hot-pot to start a post about President Bush's budget with a quote by Daniel Smith. Dan would approve; George probably couldn't care less. Which is why I'm nominating the Danielson Famile for the next presidential dynasty in America. (You might want to just skip to the end, Mukala-style, if you hate it when I talk about politics.)

Budgets, etc.

So in case you missed it, our Prez issued the big budget (projected, natch) for the fiscal years 2005-09 this past week. In his campaign, Bush promised to cut the budget in half by 2009 (it ran $427 billion this year). So now he's trying to make good.

Bad news though, it's kind of a crock. The budget, that is. It's a good thing to want to balance the budget -- that much we can all agree on. But Bush has repeatedly said he wants to do it while making permanent his tax cuts for the wealthy. If you'll remember, the original purpose of the cuts was to be a short-term boost to the all Americans (but especially those with lots'o'money) in order to spend our way out of a recession that we found ourselves in not long after taking Bush office. And guess what? No more recession. Hurray!! So there's no real reason to keep make the cuts permanent, especially when the Fed Govt can't keep up with its expenditures. Right?

Wrong. As Bush tips his post-election hand, we can clearly see that the cuts weren't simply in the interest of the economy -- they were a reward to his wealthy constituents. (And all the Republicans moaned. Oh yes, I am kind of a bastard.) Never mind that Bush put together a coalition of the working-class and poor who would suffer most were our economy to falter due to astronomic deficit spending. Bush knows they didn't vote for his economic policies. So he knows he doesn't have to pay them much mind. Just keep mentioning that Constitutional amendment against gay marriage and we're supposed to follow him all the way to privatized Social Security and the bankruptcy of Medicare.

Grievances, etc.

In case you skipped all that, I don't mind, because here's the meat. This budget is a joke. From the NY Times: "The budget is notable for including limits on spending that are unlikely to be enacted and for excluding expenses that are sure to be incurred." What? In English, please.

First, the budget does not include projections for the war in Iraq come 2006 and afterwards. That's right, according to Bush's budget, we won't be spending a single penny in Iraq after the end of this year. Everyone with a 6th grade education and a general knowledge of current events knows we'll still be there in 2006 -- and still be spending money. We spent about $81 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan this year. Let's give Bush the benefit of the doubt and say we'll cut it in half for 2006 (not very likely though). That comes to about $40 billion fiscal year 2006. Bush's projected budget for 2006 just jumped from a projected $390 billion to $430 -- That means if we count the war, we'll actually lose more money next year than we lost this year! So much for cutting the deficit.

Second, the budget assumes that all non-military spending will be frozen until 2009. That means no increased spending for Medicare/Medicaid, our national parks, public education, scholarships for college students, etc., etc., etc. Ergo, as health care and college get more expensive, we can expect no efforts by the government to help us keep up. Again, everyone knows that this sort of spending will increase. Year to year it always has, and it most likely always will. Bush knows it will. But in order to make it look like he's "balancing" the budget, he's "assuming" that Congress won't try to spend any more money that it spent this past year. Fat chance.

Third, it completely ignores his Social Security plan! Whoops? Bush seems to be warming to the idea of borrowing to fund the initiative, which means big deficits in 2009 and years after when Bush will be sippin' tea and eatin' biscuits out in Crawford, Texas. So even though he *might* cut the deficit by 2009, his Social Security plan will drive it right back to where it is now as soon as he leaves the Oval Office. Which is genius in it's own twisted, perverted way. And that's the kind of Prezy I like!

Fourth, some of Bush's proposed cuts come in veteran's benefits and education. That's right, instead of repealing the tax cuts on his wealthy friends, Bush has decided that we need to send less money to retired War Vets and kids in public school. What a guy! But here's the other thing. Bush's budget is just kind of a suggestion. He can't force Congress to go along with his cuts. So again, years from now he can feign innocence. "I tired to cut the deficit in half by the time I left office, but the Congress just wouldn't screw over the kids or the old people who risked their lives to defend our country. What more could I do?"

Tirades, etc.

When Bush first pledged to cut the federal deficit in half by 2009, he projected the budget deficit for 2005 would be $365 billion; and $260 billion by 2006. That was about a year ago. In his new and improved budget, we have an actual 2005 deficit of $427 and a projected deficit of $390 billion for 2006. So why should we trust him now?

Does anyone remember a time when conservatives were for actually for balanced budgets, and not just pretending they were with fake budgets that would find better uses in public restrooms? What the heck happened to fiscal conservatives within the Republican Party? (Do I sound like a broken record by this point?)

Quotes, etc

Let's end with a nonpartisan quote. It comes from Robert Bixby, Executive Director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan org concerned with budget spending and deficits. (And unlike those other non-partisan think-tanks *cough-cough,, cough-cough* it really is nonpartisan. Check the website.)

“The President deserves credit for proposing cuts in entitlement programs. Any serious deficit reduction plan must do so. On the other hand, closing the budget window at 5 years omits the cost of the President’s two biggest initiatives - permanent extension of expiring tax cuts and Social Security reform. Given the huge demographic challenges that begin to impact the budget over the coming five years, we need to take a longer view of how today’s policies will play out,” Bixby said.

Or maybe the more overtly partisan, and more overtly Christian, Sojourners is more appealing.

"This budget reflects a set of priorities that stand in clear opposition to biblical values. Spending more money on nuclear warheads and tax cuts that benefit the rich is not a strategy that would be affirmed by the biblical prophets -- and the proposed cuts to low-income programs will not even realize the president's stated goal of reducing the deficit."

Either way, they both get an amen. And amen, Brother Danielson. Download his song from the Secretly Canadian website, and forget about how our White House seems hell-bent on bankrupting the government. Starve the beast, biaaaatch!

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