Bush Budget Deficit, Broken Promises
|June 3, 2002||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Bush Budget Deficit Grows
Here is a news update from Taxpayers for Common Sense. TCS is the best organization that monitors excessive government spending, corruption and corporate welfare.
THE BUSH BUDGET TWO-STEP As a Presidential candidate, then-Governor George W. Bush promised the American people that he would be a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars. Unfortunately, this seems to be yet another item that will be written into the annals of broken presidential campaign promises. As the sea of red ink rises in Washington, the President has had surprisingly little to say about the return to deficits. One reason for his avoidance of the topic might be to divert attention away from his fiscal missteps.
Candidate George W. Bush promised that he would direct the entire Social Security surplus toward debt reduction. In his first budget, the President presented a budget that would “prepare for the unexpected”.by setting aside a contingency fund for emergencies or additional spending, totaling “almost a trillion dollars.” Using Social Security surpluses to pay down debt serves both short-term and long-term economic goals by putting a brake on new spending and reducing interest payments to help the nation absorb the enormous burden that will fall on Social Security and Medicare when baby boomers retire.
Sadly, it took Bush less than a year to change course. During August 2001, the President said he would tap the Social Security surplus in case of war or economic recession. Despite the fact that there are no statements on record to support their assertions, the President’s advisors have justified this policy change by claiming that Candidate George Bush had supported exceptions to tapping Social Security during his election campaign. More recently, the President added unspecified “national emergencies” to his list of exceptions for running budget deficits.
Lately, both the President and his advisors have also been dancing the tax cut two-step. When discussing spending, the President rightfully argues about the evils of deficits, yet fails to recognize that his $2 trillion tax cut is one of the main factors affecting the current budget deficit challenge.
It is becoming clear that the President has no plan to eliminate the deficit. Optimistic projections that count on restraining spending growth and the economy slowly picking up, put deficits for the next five years in the neighborhood of $50 billion per year. However, deficits could easily exceed $100 billion each year should revenues continue to fall off and the economy not improve as quickly as some project.
TCS analysis of the latest budget information from Capitol Hill suggests a significant short-term increase in the deficit. As recently as March, the Congressional Budget Office projected a $5 billion surplus for the current fiscal year. The latest figures, which reflect economic and legislative changes, project a deficit of $137 billion, and climbing.
The Bush administration’s projected deficits for this fiscal year will at least double and could easily be in excess of $200 billion should Congress and the President increase spending even more, as is typical in an election year. It’s clear that deficits are back to stay for a while and will be a feature of debate for several years to come. What’s not so clear is whether the administration will do anything to stop them.
If Bush is serious about fighting the big spenders in Congress, the multi-billion dollar emergency spending bill now before the Senate will become a fiscal policy litmus test. The Senate bill, primarily funding homeland security and the military, increases the President’s request by $2.6 billion and continues to grow. The President should demand an “emergency” bill that doesn’t exceed his original request. A good place to start would be to strip the $1.3 billion in non-emergency spending from the bill and consider it during the regular appropriations process.
In our system, the President is the only one who can serve as an effective check against government waste. During the Clinton years, a Republican majority in Congress and a Democratic White House worked together effectively to produce a balanced federal budget. The President is off to a rocky start this budget year, but it is not too late to articulate a strong policy and lead Congress away from its election-year inclination to blow the top off the treasury with new spending. To put the budget back in the black, we need stronger leadership from Bush.
The President should start by going back to his original policy of not tapping the Social Security surplus for new spending, insisting that spending be restrained and guaranteeing a veto if excesses appear.
For more information, contact Keith Ashdown at (202)-546-8500 ext. 110 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
TCS is at www.taxpayer.net
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