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Editorial Comment on the Bush Budget

Feb 2005

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Updated February 08, 2005
The Bush budget released on 7 February proposes the largest cut in domestic spending since President Reagan was in office; excluding military spending, discretionary spending (such as for education and the environment) would be cut about 1 percent.

Discretionary, non-defense spending is about 20% of the total federal budget, minus monies for the war effort.

According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), spending growth under Bush has averaged 7.4 per cent a year compared with 3.5 per cent under Bill Clinton.

The President's budget did not include an $80 billion supplemental request for Afghanistan and Iraq. Nor does it consider the cost of proposed Social Security privatization. Thus, the deficit reduction predictions are overly optimistic.

Proposed cuts include agricultural subsidies, environmental protection, the Small Business Administraion and Amtrak. In his last budget, the President achieved five of 65 proposed cuts.

Increases include NASA (at 2.4%, less than half of what Bush promised last spring).


News, editorial and commentary from around the country and the world:

Editorial: Busting the Farm Scam
Baltimore Sun, 8 Feb
    "DESPERATE TIMES call for desperate measures, which may explain why President Bush seems to have turned on his rural, red-state supporters, proposing to slash farm aid in his drive to shrink the gaping federal budget deficit.

    No matter what his motives, though, cracking down on the much-abused agriculture subsidy program is a very good idea...

    Two-thirds of federal crop subsidies go to the wealthiest 10 percent of agriculture businesses, according to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy organization, because government payments increase with farm size and sales. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, calls agriculture subsidies the nation's biggest corporate welfare program...

    These steps could relieve pressure on smaller operations, such as the nearly 7,000 farms in Maryland, none of which collects subsidies that aren't well below the proposed maximum."
News: Bush Fiscal Projections Questioned on Capitol Hill, Wall Street
Bloomberg, 8 Feb
    "On Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats alike suggest the president is unlikely to achieve anywhere near the reductions in domestic spending that are part of his $2.57 trillion budget. Bush is proposing to cut or eliminate 150 federal programs...

    Projections for subsequent years also ignore the costs of Bush's proposal to let workers invest part of their Social Security taxes in private accounts; that plan may increase the 10- year federal deficit by $1 trillion to $2 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Bush also wants Congress to make $1.1 trillion in tax cuts permanent and add $200 billion in new tax cuts."
Commenetary: Are Bush's Cuts Enough?
CBS Online (from National Review), 7 Feb
    "The good news is that this new budget contains proposed cuts and spending restraints — reforms that would save about $20 billion in fiscal 2006. The bad news is that the budget proposes to spend more than $2.5 trillion, and the White House never seems willing to stop Congress from adding even more money.

    President Bush's previous budgets increased spending by a dramatic 33 percent in four years, defense spending increased by 44.7 percent while non-defense spending increased by 41.9 percent. The administration has been arguing that much of the increase in non-defense spending stemmed from higher homeland-security spending. However, the fact is that over half of all new spending in the past two years is from areas unrelated to defense and homeland security...

    The portion of the budget Bush wants to restrain, domestic discretionary, represents a ridiculously small portion — $389 billion — of the $2.5-trillion budget. In other words, the spending limits in the budget are rather meaningless...

    What also makes the president's 150 cuts less credible is a look at last year's proposed cuts. Recall that a year ago the White house targeted 65 programs — such as Alcohol Abuse Reduction and Literacy Programs for Prisoners — to save roughly $5 billion. But in the end, Congress terminated only five of them saving a total of $292 million. Yet President Bush did not even threaten to reach for the veto pen."
Analysis:
Chicago Sun Times, 8 Feb
    "Bush would slow the growth of benefit programs by $137 billion over the next decade, nearly quadruple the savings he proposed a year ago with little success. Chief among the targets would be Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor and disabled, but farmers' payments, student loans and veterans' medical services were also on the chopping block...

    Yet largely because of Bush's plans for a defense buildup, this year's Iraq and Afghanistan war costs, and a handful of new tax cuts, the budget shows that deficits over the five years ending in 2010 would total nearly $1.4 trillion."
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