February 05, 2005

Bush budget 2005

Since the budget is a huge document, thousands of pages long, it seems only fitting that I undertake an epic summary of some of its high points. So many sources, so little time.

First, from the DNC website
Year by Year Cost of Making Bush Tax Cuts Permanent And Reforming AMT:
2009: $198 Billion
2010: $216 Billion
2011: $335 Billion
2012: $407 Billion
2013: $433 Billion
Total: $1.589 Trillion [CTJ Fact Sheet, http://www.ctj.org/pdf/binge03.pdf]
In 2004, Bush's three tax cuts over as many years reduced revenues by $270 billion. In 2003, Bush's tax cuts caused 44 percent of the deficit.
Holding non-defense, non-homeland security spending to less than 1 percent -- as Bush proposes for 2005 -- will have little impact on the deficit. Even a total freeze on discretionary spending would lower the deficit only by $3 billion, according to the House Appropriations Committee. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 10/27/03; www.govexec.com, 1/29/04]

Next, let's check in with the popular liberal blog Daily Kos
Probably, the most aggriegious (ed. egregious) of all is the proposal to make it more difficult to increase veterans disability compensation in the face of more and more of our troops coming home with no arms or legs.

The Council on Foreign Relations had this to say about the budget
federal funding for local fire departments so that they can respond better to possible terrorist attacks is slashed by a third. A different priority is to expand high-tech military spending, especially on advanced aircraft and missile defense. Since the main beneficiaries are only a few aerospace companies, this is as close to an "industrial policy" as the United States ever gets.

The official website of the Department of the Interior offered this subtle statement
"The Bush Administration has embraced the philosophy that a growing American economy is the solution to improving our environmental quality," said Jim Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

The pro-Palestinian site Counterpunch offered some surprising numbers
"That not less than $50,000,000 of the funds made available under this heading shall be made available for refugees from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and other refugees resettling in Israel."
"not less than $2,160,000,000 shall be available for grants only for Israel. Provided further, That to the extent that the Government of Israel requests that funds be used for such purposes, grants made available for Israel by this paragraph shall, as agreed by Israel and the United States, be available for advanced weapons systems, of which not less than $568,000,000 shall be available for the procurement in Israel of defense articles and defense services, including research and development."

The Union of Concerned Scientists offers these comforting thoughts
At $10.7 billion, a nearly 20 percent increase over last year, ballistic missile defense remains the single largest program in the overall defense budget of $420.7 billion.
Last year after much debate, Congress attempted to curtail the administration's most controversial nuclear weapons programs to develop new nuclear weapons capabilities and increase the readiness to resume nuclear weapons tests if so directed. Despite clear concerns expressed by Congress, this year's nuclear weapons budget requests more funds in these areas.

The League of Conservation Voters brings us tales of more shortfalls
Funding for the Environmental Protection Agency would fall by over $600 million dollars with the biggest impacts falling on water quality and science and technology programs. Land conservation would fall far short of current needs, with the greatest deficiencies occurring in land acquisition, wildlife protection, and parks funding. Certain critical clean energy programs would also be slashed, such as federal R&D into energy efficiency and solar energy, while unjustified subsidies to polluters continue.

From the AFL-CIO
The Bush budget proposal permanently locks in multitrillion-dollar tax breaks that mostly benefit the nation's wealthiest. To finance these taxes cuts for millionaires and billionaires, the budget inflates the already record-high $477 billion U.S. deficit and shortchanges or cuts funds for the domestic programs working families need most, from job creation to health care, transportation and education.
What's more, Bush may have a political agenda for blowing up the national deficit. A huge deficit offers justification for cutting spending on job creation and social programs and gives the Republican congressional leadership an excuse to renew calls to privatize Social Security and Medicare, says economist and University of Texas at Austin Public Policy Professor James Galbraith. Such privatization would be a bonanza for the insurance and financial services companies that back Bush's re-election, but not for working families.

The White House press release offers these concrete reforms
Today, President Bush announced his Fiscal Year 2005 budget, a plan to help make America a more secure, more prosperous, and more hopeful country.
The budget provides substantial increases to improve our Nation's security and win the War on Terror.
The President's budget includes a 10% increase over FY 2004 for the Department of Homeland Security, a doubling of funding for DHS programs since FY 2001.
His budget includes a new four-year, $300 million initiative to bring faith-based and community groups together with Federal agencies to help recently released prisoners make a successful transition back to society and long-term employment, reducing the chance that they will commit crimes again. This four-year, $300 million initiative will provide basic job training and placement, transitional housing, and mentoring.
His budget also provides $150 million as part of a three-year program for mentoring disadvantaged youth and children of prisoners, and $200 million as part of a three-year effort to provide treatment for addicts including through faith- based and community drug treatment programs.

Bloomberg sounds dubious
Bush also has yet to show how his budget will account for his campaign promise to make permanent $1.85 trillion in tax cuts that begin to expire in 2008.
Bush won't send to Congress his plan for overhauling Social Security to provide for private savings accounts before late February. That may increase the federal budget deficit by as much as $2 trillion over 10 years.

CNN offers these quotes from a Joshua Bolten apparently speaking for the White House
(edit: Bolten is the director of the Office of Management and Budget)
"You will see even more so in this budget than in the past, a focus on those (domestic programs) that are indeed federal priorities and delivering results," Bolten said in an interview.
Those programs that the administration thinks are performing poorly "are more likely to be reduced in this budget," Bolten said.Administration officials said Bush will propose combining 18 community development programs and cut their total spending by more than $1 billion. The largest is the $4.7 billion community development block grant, which assists more than 1,000 communities per year. Also affected are efforts for rural housing and economic improvements for Indian tribes.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has some good examples of doublespeak
"The people in Congress on both sides of the aisle have said, `Let's worry about the deficit.' I said, `OK, we'll worry about it again.' My last budget worried about it, this budget will really worry about it," Bush said Friday in Omaha, Neb
Is that possible?
"It depends on what you mean by possible," said Alice Rivlin, former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve and budget director in the Clinton White House. "Can he put together a budget proposal that does that on paper? Yes. Can it pass the Congress? I doubt it."
"You'd have to be terminating large numbers of programs, turning things back to the states. It would be a drastic reversal of federal policy for which he has not prepared the country," Rivlin said.
And two major expenses won't even be in the 2006 budget: rising costs of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and a sweeping Social Security overhaul that has already ignited bitter partisan fighting.

From the San Diego Union Tribune comes a warning about hidden costs
Mary E. McClymont, president of InterAction, an alliance of overseas relief organizations, said programs at risk for cuts include those providing education, health care and agriculture assistance. These programs help prevent the kind of instability that could turn some countries into breeding grounds for terrorists, she said.

Reuters points out another overlooked cost
The $419.3 billion draft 2006 Defense Department request for the fiscal year beginning next October includes only Pentagon spending, according to the U.S. officials, who asked not to be identified. It does not include spending by the Energy Department on U.S. nuclear weapons programs.

The Economist doesn't like the administration's math much
As an exercise in fiscal responsibility, it is a charade.
the budget does not factor in the future costs of keeping soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan: even Mr Bush's own budget director says costs could be as much as $50 billion for Iraq alone in 2005.
Take, first, the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which Mr Bush wants to make permanent at a ten-year cost, when other new proposals for tax-free savings schemes are added in, of $1.25 trillion. The cuts may well have provided a welcome economic stimulus at a time when confidence was knocked by recession and terrorist attack. But after 2009, these cuts will equal three-quarters of the total deficit, even by the administration's own numbers.

The St. Petersburg Times minces no words
Only the Agriculture Department and Environmental Protection Agency face substantial spending cuts under the Bush budget. In the USDA, the Forest Service would be hit hardest, and the EPA would see big reductions in spending for wastewater treatment and drinking water plants as well as scientific research into the health effects of pollution.
If this budget is able to cast President Bush as fiscally responsible, it will be one of the great con jobs of all time.

And finally from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (who know way more math than I do) some info on the deficit
In terms of legislation since 2001, tax cuts are the single most important factor in explaining the move from surpluses to deficits.
What caused a projected surplus of $5 trillion to become a projected deficit of $4.3 trillion? Approximately 35 percent of this stunning $9.3 trillion deterioration is due to the tax cuts enacted over the past three years or assumed in this analysis, making tax cuts the single largest factor attributable to policymakers' actions. Another 28 percent of the deterioration is due to spending legislation, with more than two-thirds of the growth in spending representing increased costs for defense, homeland security, and the war on terrorism (and only one-twenty-fifth of the new spending representing increased costs for domestic discretionary programs outside homeland security)

Tax cuts account for $3.3 trillion of the $9.3 trillion deterioration for the years 2002-2011, making them the most costly legislative change since 2001. Moreover, the share of the fiscal deterioration that is attributable to tax cuts rises over time. By 2014, tax cuts will account for 40 percent of the deterioration.

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