Bush budget flawed

by Beacon Staff • February 22, 2006

Congratulations, Mr. President. You have created something that is perfect only in its imperfections.

Let's start with defense. Bush proposes a hefty increase of 6.,George W. Bush has really outdone himself. His budget, released two weeks ago, is like nothing seen before.

Congratulations, Mr. President. You have created something that is perfect only in its imperfections.

Let's start with defense. Bush proposes a hefty increase of 6.9 percent in military spending, which, if implemented would bring the total amount of annual spending on defense to $439.3 billion. And amazingly, this does not include money for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Already, the United States accounts for 36 percent of all the world's military spending-yet we only make up about 5 percent of the world's population, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

Those hawkish enough to favor spending that much money on defense have the responsibility to investigate how that money is spent.

Another important element of the proposed spending plan is Bush's insistence on making his tax cuts permanent, perhaps the most maddening proposal in a budget littered with such federal cuts.

Bush has refused to repeal them despite a record deficit, natural disasters and what appears to be an endless war.

Nothing short of the apocalypse would be able to convince him that some of that money would be better served helping the nation as opposed to lining the pockets of the rich.

The White House claims the tax cuts are keeping the economy thriving.

But in reality, they serve to benefit only the rich and have done nothing to improve the quality of life for working Americans.

According to a report released in January by the Department of Labor, 80 percent of workers' wages failed to keep up with the rate of inflation.

The cost of gas, real estate and food is going up, yet employees are not seeing their paychecks making up the difference.

The purpose of tax cuts, so says the President, is so that companies can make more profits.

They can then use that money to grow the business and create new jobs with quality pay.

But the folly of supply-side economics always rears it ugly head at the end of the day.

Many times, companies do not use the money to pay workers more or create quality jobs.

They instead keep it so shareholders and CEOs can reap the benefits.

This economic philosophy, made famous by Ronald Reagan, is often called "trickle down" economics.

But if something is really trickling down, it sure as hell is not money.

So if the budget calls for more defense spending and tax cut permanency, we must ask:

How do we shrink the deficit?

The answer, according to the President, is to cut "entitlements," which refers to guaranteed social services.

So rather than go without the proposed Army Future Combat Systems, a combination of 18 digitally connected combat vehicles that is expected to cost $22 billion over the next five years, Bush will do away with the survivor benefits-an element of Social Security for more than 50 years that gives funds to the families of recently deceased loved ones (a $255 one-time payment).

And rather than repeal recent tax cuts for the richest 1 percent of Americans, Bush will cut Medicare and eliminate supplemental food programs which are designed to provide affordable healthcare and food to poor and elderly citizens.

Or he can cut funding from the Department of Education, where Bush has already proposed eliminating 42 programs.

And the farmers, those hopeless freeloaders who are obviously taking too much of the treasury pie, could be next too: Bush has plans to cut crop payments by 5 percent.

Most of these proposed cuts to social programs, if implemented, will barely dent the federal deficit but have cruel effects on the lives of our nation's neediest people.

Bush says his approach to the budget was to fund the nation's major priorities and make sacrifices elsewhere.

But upon close examination, we see this budget represents only the president's priorities and leaves the American people to pick up the tab.

Bush once called himself a "compassionate conservative."

This budget, however, has proven-in near-perfect detail-that there is nothing compassionate about this president.