President Bush’s budget, released this Monday, reveals what most Americans have known all along: the administration cannot be trusted to be fiscally responsible with the country’s budget. Since the administration took office in 2001, a 10-year projected surplus of $5.5 trillion surplus has become a $5 trillion deficit – due in no small part to the Bush tax cuts. On top of this $10 trillion swing, the recently released budget does not include the estimated $50 billion cost for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, only runs for five years (masking the true cost of making the tax cuts permanent after 2010) and shifts program costs to state governments through a combination of budget cuts and revenue changes (click here for a more thorough analysis of the administration’s budget). The editorials below, taken from newspapers around the country, illustrate the questions many Americans have about this year’s budget.
St. Petersburg, Fla. – St. Petersburg Times
A Budget Fantasy, February 4, 2004
“[President Bush’s budget] is based on a false assumption – that the current $521-billion deficit can be tamed merely by controlling spending. U.S. Rep. c=W. Bill Young, R-Largo, quickly burst that bubble. “No one should expect significant deficit reductions as a result of austere non-defense discretionary spending limits,” Young said. “The numbers simply do not add up…
“The budget also ignores the dominant role Bush’s massive tax cuts played in creating the deficit. Not only does the president fail to address that issue, he would put a greater burden on future budget-balancing efforts by making $900-billion of those tax cuts permanent…
“If this budget is able to cast President Bush as fiscally responsible, it will be one of the great con jobs of all time.”
Detroit, Mich. – Detroit Free Press
Missing Numbers, February 3, 2004
“The Bush administration continued its dodgeball game Monday with a proposed 2005 budget that does not include the costs of war-related missions.
“The best the White House came up with was a hope that next year’s costs for activities in Afghanistan and Iraq would not exceed $50 billion, accompanied by a flat-out declaration that the real number would not come out until sometime after the November 2 election…
“Americans deserve to know those scenarios and numbers. They provide the context for perhaps the chief issue in the upcoming presidential campaign…
“Americans need to draw the line at any new revenue cuts until the White House comes clean about how much the county’s ongoing responsibilities cost.”
Dallas, Texas – Dallas Morning News
Budget Priorities: We Can’t Have Everything, February 3, 2004
“The White House wants guns and tax cuts, but it can’t have both. Not if the administration wants to control the $521 billion deficit our children and grandchildren will inherit…
“[The 2005 budget] asks Congress to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, which would hike the deficit $131.6 billion over five years…
“In a budget where people must make choices, it makes no sense to decide as early as this year that the Bush tax reductions of 2001 and 2003 should extend beyond their 2009 expiration. For one thing, those cuts are an ‘exploding cigar,’ as the Concord Coalition’s Bob Bixby describes them. The laws of math are such that they will snowball into a $2 trillion cost after 2009. Congress should postpone this decision until 2009, when it will have a better handle on the cuts’ economic impact.”
Cleveland, Ohio – The Cleveland Plain Dealer
Bush’s Budget – February 2, 2004
“A favorite game of the inside-the-beltway crowd is Guess What Color the Budget’s Cover Will Be. Here are our suggestions:
“How about blood red, to match the ink spread across each of its thousand of pages?
“Or deep green, for the trillions of dollars it will drain from Americans and their children to fill the chasm of debt in which this administration seems blissfully bent on casting us all?
“Or sky blue, for the irrational optimism of President George W. Bush, who seems unwilling – or unable – to grasp the yawning deficit over which he is presiding?
“The answer demands increased revenues – the single response that Bush refuses to accept, especially in an election year. Rather, he wants to make permanent the economy-spurring tax cuts – which would add another trillion dollars to the deficit.
“All of this adds up to the color choice that is probably the most fitting for the cover of today’s bundle of budget dreams:
“Black – to match the future of our economy.”
Minneapolis, Minn. – Minneapolis Star Tribune
Bush’s Budget: It Doesn’t Add Up, February 3, 2004
“The budget that President Bush submitted to Congress on Monday reveals a leader caught in a serious dilemma. He must fund a hugely expensive military operation overseas, improve national security at home, and still somehow deal with federal budget deficits now projected at $2.4 trillion and climbing…
“The president says the battle against terrorists remains a priority. Last year he asked Congress for $87 billion to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the budget released on Monday contains not one penny for those operations after Sept. 30. Every American hopes for a speedy and peaceful solution to these hostilities, but the White House cannot believe that their costs will fall to zero on Oct. 1…
“And, at least one-third of the growing budget crisis, by CBO estimates, stems from the large tax cuts that Bush himself has championed…
“Now the president is asking Congress for additional tax cuts, arguing that they will stimulate the economy and help the nation grow its way out of deficits. But Congress has passed three tax cuts in three years, including two since the recession ended, and the budget picture has gotten worse and worse each year. Why should voters still believe in this failed strategy?”