Once again it’s time for the Bush Fantasy Budget. Here’s a roundup of commentary, starting with Eric Alterman:
You can skip â€œThe Noteâ€ today, and almost every article written about the Bush â€œbudget.â€ Typical of Bush, itâ€™s a lie from start to finish. The Times notes â€œomissions include any costs for the war in Iraq after 2007, any additional reconstruction costs for New Orleans after 2006 and any plan for preventing a huge expansion in the alternative minimum tax after the end of this year,â€ and thatâ€™s just for starters, here. Bush has done to the countryâ€™s fiscal sanity what heâ€™s done to Iraqâ€™s physical infrastructure. We are talking shortfalls of trillions of dollars, all to no useful purpose. Congrats to all his enablers on all fronts, including the Washington Postâ€™s Kool-Aid drinking Amy Goldstein who writes, with a straight-face that this phony-baloney budget is aimed “taming the deficit to satisfy conservatives, who complain that Bush has presided over a rapid expansion of federal spending.” Here. This is the kind of MSM reporting that backed up Bush on claims like â€œYou canâ€™t talk about Saddam Hussein without talking about Al-Qaida.â€
New York Times editorial:
President Bush’s $2.77 trillion budget is fiction masquerading as fact, a governmental version of the made-up memoirs that have been denounced up and down the continent lately. The spending proposal is built around the pretense that the same House and Senate that are set to consider a record deficit of $423 billion will now impose a virtual freeze on everything other than Pentagon and homeland security outlays. The budget writers even fantasized an end to Social Security’s lump-sum death benefit â€” a whopping $255 per recipient â€” as if Congress would dare to do something so heartless and easy to exploit in an election year.
The point of all these imaginary financial projections is to give the president leeway to cement in place hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts the nation can ill afford and does not need. The cuts were made temporary in the first place because there was no way to even pretend that budgets could be balanced in the future with such an enormous loss of revenue.
IF GEORGE W. BUSH had been candid when he stood in the House chamber last week to report to the nation, here’s one thing he would have said: ”My fellow Americans, we are steadily squandering our children’s future.” …
…Although they favor very different remedies, a remarkable consensus exists among fiscal experts, regardless of where they fall on the ideological spectrum, about the magnitude of our budgetary problems.
”I just came from a panel with [former OMB director] Alice Rivlin of Brookings and Bob Bixby from the Concord Coalition, and we couldn’t stop agreeing on the long-term budget danger,” Brian Riedl, chief budget analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said on Friday. ”We may disagree on the solution, but among economists and think tanks, there is not much disagreement that the budget deficits within the next five, 10, or 20 years will reach levels that are practically unheard of.”
The roots of our fiscal madness, on display once again yesterday with the unveiling of President Bush’s new budget and its deficit in excess of $350 billion, were planted on Oct. 27, 1990. …
… Ever since Bush 41’s defeat in 1992, Republicans — especially Bush 43 — have committed themselves to the proposition that they will never, ever cross the tax-cutting Republican right. Taxes will be cut in good times and in bad. They will not be raised, no matter how much the government decides to spend. If preserving Republican unity requires throwing the entire cost of the war in Iraq onto the next generation, go for it. Does the Pentagon need big spending increases? Fine, but don’t even think about paying for them with new taxes.
Tax cutting is now the idol of the Republican shrine.
The president’s budget acknowledges the cost of Bush’s call to make his tax cuts permanent — $1.35 trillion over the next decade and nearly $120 billion in 2011 alone. But beyond 2007, the budget assumes no military expenditures in Iraq or Afghanistan and no effort to address the unintended effects of the alternative minimum tax, a parallel income tax system that was designed to hit the rich but has instead increasingly pinched the middle class. It also assumes Congress will cut domestic spending every year after 2007.
Those factors led Goldman Sachs economists to tell clients yesterday that the deficit forecasts are “unrealistic.” …
… “This budget is not going to happen,” said Stanley E. Collender, a federal budget analyst at Financial Dynamics Business Communications. “Of all the budgets I’ve seen recently, this is the one going nowhere the fastest.”
The logic here is baffling at best. Bush has continually stated he wants to half the deficit (which he created — he inherited a surplus and three consecutive balanced budgets). Yet, he continually proposes spending cuts that are disproportionate to his revenue decreases. According to the CBO, overall revenues have increased 8.16% since 2001 while overall spending has increased 32.68%. … They continually use special appropriations for Afghanistan and Iraq. As a result, the budget does not contain the cost of both campaigns. This allows the administration to play hide the ball regarding the overall cost.
There will be many more shoes to drop regarding the Bush Administration’s budget for Fiscal Year 2007, to be released today. I want to hit a quick one. By now it is pretty widely understood that the destabilizing element in the budget in the long run is health care, which means Medicare and Medicaid. All cuts proposed today and performed thus far have completely neglected this elementary fact. Worse, the Administration substantially worsened Medicare funding by adding a drug benefit with no accompanying revenue.
Otherwise, it’s a great budget. (sarcasm off)