Budget 2004

Government to Borrow $177 Billion; National Debt Close to $7 Trillion
Budget 2004

AP: "The government expects to tap $177 billion from the credit markets this quarter, which would mark the largest amount ever borrowed in any quarter, the Treasury Department said Monday. The new borrowing estimate for the January-to-March quarter is bigger than the previous projection of $160 billion made in November. 'This increase in borrowing is due to lower receipts, primarily from an increase in tax refunds, and higher outlays,' the department said. Officials would not provide more detailed information. The new projection comes as the government's finances worsen. This year's budget deficit is expected to total $521 billion, a record in dollar terms, even as the economic recovery is in full stride. That would surpass the previous record deficit of $374.2 billion produced in the 2003 budget year. Treasury needs to borrow more to finance the daily operations of government, including meeting interest payments on the national debt, which is now closing in on $7 trillion."

Krugman Says Right-Wingers are Playing 'Starve the Beast'
Budget 2004

"Most people don't feel that their taxes have fallen sharply. And they're right: taxes that fall mainly on middle-income Americans, like the payroll tax, are still near historic highs. The decline in revenue has come almost entirely from taxes that are mostly paid by the richest 5% of families: the personal income tax and the corporate profits tax. These taxes combined now take a smaller share of national income than in any year since WWII... What's playing out in America right now is the bait-and-switch strategy known on the right as 'starve the beast.' The ultimate goal is to slash government programs that help the poor and the middle class, and use the savings to cut taxes for the rich. But the public would never vote for that. So the right has used deceptive salesmanship to undermine tax enforcement and push through upper-income tax cuts. And now that deficits have emerged, the right insists that they are the result of runaway spending, which must be curbed."

Conservative Groups Break with Bush
Budget 2004

"National leaders of six conservative organizations yesterday broke with the Republican majorities in the House and Senate, accusing them of spending like 'drunken sailors,' and had some strong words for Bush as well. 'The Republican Congress is spending at twice the rate as under Bill Clinton, and Bush has yet to issue a single veto,' Paul M. Weyrich, national chairman of Coalitions for America [& co-founder of the Heritage Foundation and head of the Free Congress Foundation -- and Richard Mellon Scaife's top operative], said at a news briefing with the other five leaders. 'I complained about profligate spending during the Clinton years but never thought I'd have to do so with a Republican in the White House and Republicans controlling the Congress... Citizens Against Government Waste, the Club for Growth and National Taxpayers Union also joined yesterday's conservative protest of excessive spending", along with Citizens for a Sound Economy and the American Conservative Union.

13 Reasons Why Your Representatives Should OPPOSE the GOP Omnibus Bill
Budget 2004

When the Senate returns Jan. 20, Senate Majority Leader Frist will call for a vote on the $820 billion FY 2004 omnibus spending package he was unable to pass this week. This Dec. 4 letter from Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin to his colleagues gives one of the clearest summaries we've seen of Democratic opposition to the bill. Obey cites: 1) massive assault on overtime; 2) media monopoly; 3) country of origin labeling for meat and produce; 4) prescription drug reimportation ban; 5) $500 million cut in state and local law enforcement; 6) voucher program for D.C. schools; 7) non-competitive sourcing; 8) cuts in veterans programs; 9) weakens the Clean Air Act; 10) reduced spending for biomedical research; 11) $7.8 billion underfunding of No Child Left Behind; 12) cuts in merit-based education programs; 13) cuts in Homeland Security. Urge your Representatives to vote NO on the Omnibus.

Republicans are Addicted to Pork
Budget 2004

Calpundit: "[Dems] on the House Appropriations Committee have written a report about GOP addiction to pork... The subject of the report is earmarks, which are specific pet projects inserted into bills by congress critters who are eager to funnel some federal dough directly to their own districts. Bottom line: everyone does it, but Republicans do it a lot more. In the Labor-HHS-Education bill, as the chart shows, the number of earmarks has gone up from zero in 1995, when the Republicans took over, to 1,857 this year. In the annual transportation bill, Dems inserted 322 earmarks in their final bill in 1995. Republicans inserted 1,818 this year. In the defense appropriations bill the number has gone from about 300 to 1,800 and in VA-HUD from 265 to 921. Earmarks in the Commerce-Justice-State appropriations bill have skyrocketed from 45 to 966. Put it all together, and in just these five appropriations bills the number of earmarks has risen from about 900 in 1995 to 7,362 this year."

Republican Budget is 'Out of Control'
Budget 2004

"As Congress rushes to conclude its 2003 session, Republican leaders are trying to garner votes for controversial legislation by loading the bills with billions of dollars in added costs that analysts said would expand the budget deficit for years to come. The year-end binge has alarmed analysts in Washington and on Wall Street, coming as it does after three years of presidential and congressional initiatives that have both substantially boosted government spending and shrunk its tax base. 'The U.S. budget is out of control,' the Goldman Sachs & Co. warned Friday... [The] federal budget deficit [is] already projected to rise from a record $374 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 to close to or above $500 billion in the current fiscal year... 'Evidently the word 'tomorrow' no longer exists in the vocabulary of otherwise responsible members of Congress,' said Warren Rudman, a former NH Republican senator. 'They are acting as if there is no tomorrow.' "

Leave Some Pork on the Table
Budget 2004

From a NY Times Editorial: "The Republican Congressional majority is working its will in the fine print of the huge appropriations bills that will detail the spending next year by a government already hobbled by a record deficit. From an incumbent's point of view, the print gets no finer than the $1 billion in 'earmarks' -- custom-tailored pork-barrel spending -- tucked into the enormous $470 billion budget for the labor, education and health agencies. Fans of Congressional budget politicking are familiar with the way lawmakers compete for projects that benefit their districts alone. But earmarks take it one step further, granting to specially favored lawmakers the ability to bypass formulas for allocating federal funds and pluck money from the budget. Sugarplums is a better term. One notable aspect of the earmark tab is that it has quietly grown 30-fold in the years since the G.O.P. won the House in 1994."

Democratic Candidates Cite Record $480 Billion Deficit as Evidence of Bush's Economic Failure
Budget 2004

AP reports: "Resident Bush's Democratic rivals seized on projections of record budget deficits Tuesday, arguing that the numbers add up to a failed economic policy that will hit future generations hard. 'It's obvious this administration doesn't have the slightest clue about how to get this economy back on track, get Americans back to work and get our nation's finances under control,' said Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who added, 'it is time to admit what millions of unemployed Americans already know -- that the economic policies of George W. Bush are the worst in our nation's history.' Congressional budget analysts said Tuesday that the government faces at least eight more years of budget deficits, including a record $480 billion shortfall in 2004. The analysts also warned that extending Bush's tax cuts beyond their expiration combined with other spending could increase the $1.4 trillion deficit over the next decade to $1.6 trillion."

Bush 'Buried' Critical Budget Report
Budget 2004

"The Bush administration reportedly buried a report commissioned by the US Treasury which predicted a budget deficit of over $44,000bn and called for tax rises. In a front-page story Britain's Financial Times said the report, which advocated tax rises, was left out of February's budget report as the White House lobbied for $350bn in tax cuts... The newspaper said the study was 'the most comprehensive assessment of how the US government is at risk of being overwhelmed by the 'baby boom' generation's future healthcare and retirement costs'. 'It estimates that closing the gap would require the equivalent of an immediate and permanent 66% across-the-board income tax increase,' the FT said."

Bush's REAL Goal -- Destroying Social Security and Medicare
Budget 2004

James K. Galbraith writes: "It isn't about the economy. It isn't about meeting the needs of the country. It certainly isn't about managing the federal fisc. No. The new tax cut is about cutting taxes on the rich. Texas-style... Bush's new law will give a taste of Texas taxation to the whole country... The train wreck will come after the election... Just as Lyndon Johnson's Great Society sought to complete Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, Bush's plan is to finish up Ronald Reagan's first two years. Reagan wanted to take down Social Security at that time - but the Democrats stopped him... It appears that Bush in 2005 is determined to complete the project of 1981. [As governor, Bush] cut taxes irresponsibly, earned his spurs, and then moved on. Now his Republican successors are out on the battlefield, executing the wounded. That will be our fate, too, as a nation, if we let this tax bill lead to election victory for Bush and the Republicans next year."

Dems to Bush & GOP: Jobs Not Tax Cuts -- and Don't Stiff Veterans
Budget 2004

"More jobs, not tax cuts, are needed to help Americans struggling in the nation's slumping economy, Rep. Elijah Cummings said Saturday. Cummings, who is chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, reproached Republicans 'for cutting taxes that disproportionately benefit wealthy Americans.' 'We need to get America's families back to work -- earning the money to pay for their homes, their health care, their children's education and their retirement,' the Maryland Democrat said during his party's weekly radio address. Last week, the House approved cuts of $550 billion over a decade. The Senate agreed to no more than $350 billion in tax cuts. Congress hopes to work out the final details in May... 'The Republican budget says that tax cuts for the wealthy are more important than taking care of our veterans, who fought for the freedom of our country,' he added."

Even the PentaPost Calls GOP Budget a 'Farce'
Budget 2004

As a farce of a newspaper, the Pentagon Post knows a farce when it sees one. "With the two houses unable to agree on a bottom line for tax cuts, they took the unprecedented step of crafting a budget resolution that contains two separate tax cut numbers, one for the Senate ($350 billion through 2013), the other for the House ($550 billion over the same period). This had the effect -- farce #1 -- of simply postponing resolution of what seems to be intractable disagreement. The final version, however, contained a technical but important twist. It would allow the Senate to pass tax cuts of up to $350 billion by a simple majority vote; anything higher would require 60 votes, a high hurdle in the closely divided Senate. That rule would change, however, once the two chambers passed their competing tax plans and moved to conference. At that stage -- farce #2 -- tax cuts of up to the House number, $550 billion, would be able to pass the Senate by majority vote."

Empty Promises, Empty Cupboards
Budget 2004

NOW's Kim Gandy writes, "Have they no decency? The Senate on Friday resembled a circus side show, practicing the old shell game of now you see it, now you don't. While on paper they passed a cut resembling the House's $550 billion giveaway to millionaires, Senators promised that they didn't mean it and would hold the line at the already-indecent $350 billion cut... Women are tired of those sorry promises... Where is the voice for our concerns, our future, our health, our children's safety and well-being? With a one-vote margin provided by VP Cheney, the Senate bowed to the will of Bush and the run-amok leaders of the House. Reminiscent of the one vote margin that propelled George W. Bush into the White House, the country's budget and tax policy is being determined by a similar one vote margin, cast by a man whose primary interest appears to be gaining non-competitive federal contracts for his former company, Halliburton, to rebuild the country that has been razed under his direction."

Republicans Adopt Another 'Loot and Borrow' Budget
Budget 2004

NY Times opines, "The Republican-led Congress is ... consumed with its retrograde struggle over just how much more of a tax cut the wealthiest Americans need as the nation plunges into a decade of deepening budgetary pain. In midnight maneuvering, the leaders used a parliamentary snooker strategy to try to outflank Senate resisters who want to halve Bush's fiscally destructive 10-year plan for $726 billion more in tax cuts... The budget they passed is an act of transparent procrastination... Costs remain open-ended on priorities like the war and pacification in Iraq. The new budget plan falls well short of election-year promises in such vital domestic needs as education, child care and even domestic security. The plan lacks far more than the precise size of another tax cut. It leaves taxpayers facing a decade of underfinanced programs and irresponsible deficits, and a government floating further adrift on hundreds of billions more in borrowed money."

A Bush Tradition: GOP House Approves Record Deficit Budget
Budget 2004

Reuters reports, "The House voted 216-211 to clear Congress' 2004 tax and spending blueprint. The Senate was scheduled to follow suit on Friday despite lingering doubts whether Republican moderates, who had sought smaller tax cuts, would back the plan. 'I expect we will have the votes,' said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Don Nickles, an Oklahoma Republican. 'I believe in prayer.' [The budget] projects government deficits of $347 billion in 2003, $385 billion in 2004 and $294 billion in 2005, all exceeding in dollar terms the previous record of $290 billion in 1992 [when George Bush the First was president]. Bush [the Second] issued a statement saying, 'I commend the House for passing this measure and look forward to prompt passage in the Senate.' Democrats argue new tax cuts will dig the deficit hole deeper and accused Republicans of 'railroading' the budget through the House in the early morning hours to try to conceal its true effects."

Meanwhile, on the Home Front
Budget 2004

Jeffrey J. Mariotte writes: "As George Bush had hoped, the deaths of Americans and Iraqis (and 'collateral damage' in Kuwait, Iran, and Saudi Arabia) has resulted in a climb in U.S. opinion polls for him. The undeniable facts that his abysmal diplomacy has caused us to start a war without support from the rest of the world, and that his administration's conduct has meant that our soldiers in Iraq are undermanned and under-supplied, seem not to be hurting him politically. Yet. But what most Americans don't realize - and how could they, if they get their news from all-war, all the time cable news stations or the newspapers that are glorifying the war effort and Bush's involvement in it - is what is going on here at home."

Mugging the Needy
Budget 2004

Bob Herbert writes, "The budget passed by the House is particularly gruesome. It mugs the poor and the helpless while giving unstintingly to the rich. This blueprint for domestic disaster has even moderate Republicans running for cover. The House plan offers the well-to-do $1.4 trillion in tax cuts, while demanding billions of dollars in cuts from programs that provide food stamps, school lunches, health care for the poor and the disabled, temporary assistance to needy families - even veterans' benefits and student loans. An analysis of the House budget by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that its proposed cuts in child nutrition programs threaten to eliminate school lunches for 2.4 million low-income children. Under the House plan, Congress would be required to cut $265 billion from entitlement programs over 10 years. About $165 billion would come from programs that assist low-income Americans."

While Soldiers Sacrifice their Lives, Bush Demands Tax Cuts for the Rich
Budget 2004

PentaPost reports, "With the nation at war, the White House has introduced a new justification for Bush's $726 billion tax cut: Do it for the troops. Three times in the past week, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer has urged the passage of Bush's tax cut, as he put it Monday, 'to make sure that the economy can grow and that jobs can be created, so that when our men and women in the military return home, they'll have jobs to come home to.'... Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) yesterday linked his support for the war spending to his tax-cut opposition. 'I find it disturbing that this request comes as Bush continues to dig us further in debt by pushing through a massive tax cut to benefit the most affluent,' he said. 'That's simply wrong considering our nation is at war and our service men and women are being asked to give the ultimate sacrifice halfway around the world.'" Tell your Senators - no tax cuts for the rich!

Stop the Senate Budget Resolution's $726 BILLION Tax Cut
Budget 2004

"I am writing to urge your opposition to the irresponsible and inequitable Senate Budget Resolution, which will be voted on Wednesday, March 26... The economic priorities expressed by the Budget Committee budget plan are out of touch with my life. The tax cuts offered by the Administration and now passed by the Budget Committee are too large, too inequitable, and poorly designed to meet the need for jobs creation, state fiscal stability, and other urgent domestic and foreign responsibilities. The Senate Budget Committee plan shortchanges economic security, and the hopes for the future, of millions of ordinary Americans, in order to provide tax breaks for a handful of the wealthiest in our country. They will impose their costs on low- and moderate-income families, or result in continuing long-term deficits, or both. They represent an irresponsible, reckless, and inequitable, blueprint for our nation's economy that should be firmly rejected." Click to send this to your Senators!

Budgetary Shock and Awe
Budget 2004

The American public transfixed by the unfolding invasion of Iraq may someday look up and discover too late what the Republican Congress did while the world's attention was elsewhere. Led by the Bush administration, the House and Senate are about to march under the public's radar screen and lead the country into a decade of budgetary disaster.

Tell Your Senators to Oppose The Devastating Republican Budget
Budget 2004

On 3-20-03, the Republican House passed by a narrow 215-212 margin a 2004 budget with significant reductions in veterans' benefits and huge cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, and farm programs, along with tax cuts for the rich totaling $1.4 trillion through 2013. The Senate will vote on WEDNESDAY. Join NOW in writing your Senators: "We cannot support further tax cuts for the wealthy when important government programs on which many women and low-income families depend may end up being reduced or eliminated. Bush's irresponsible tax cut and budget plans will further weaken the economy, increase our already high unemployment rate and hurt millions of families. The Bush tax cut package, ramrodded through Congress, will plunge the country deeper into long-term debt. It will do nothing to stimulate economic growth in the near term and will likely worsen our ailing economy. Please vote against these tax cuts."

Bush Budget Skimps on Working Families, Splurges on Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
Budget 2004

"Under Bush's FY 2004 budget, seniors who need help paying for life-saving prescription drugs will have to give up their private doctors and join HMOs, while wealthy families will reap hundreds of billions from the elimination of taxes on corporate dividends. Bush's budget creates a record $307 billion deficit for FY 2004, yet still cuts spending on workplace safety, aid to rural schools, juvenile delinquency programs, low-income housing and more... 'From Medicare to education, from job training to jobless benefits, from transportation to public safety and from Medicaid to Social Security, the administration's 2004 budget neglects priorities and hollows out the most trusted services to pay for tax cuts so unbalanced that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney would get back more in taxes than the average American worker earns in one year,' said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney."

While the Rich Get Richer Under Bush's Budget, the Poor Get Screwed
Budget 2004

"Bush's budget proposes new eligibility requirements that would make it more difficult for low-income families to obtain a range of government benefits, from tax credits to school lunches... The administration wants to require families to supply more proof of their income and living arrangements before they can qualify for aid. Critics, including some local officials, said today that the extra steps would deter eligible poor people from applying for needed assistance... The Bush proposal could impose time-consuming new duties on school employees in large school districts. 'It would be a nightmare for us,' said Nadine L. Mann, director of operations for the child nutrition programs in East Baton Rouge Parish, La., which serves 44,000 lunches a day to schoolchildren. Barry Sackin, VP of the American School Food Service Association, said the Bush plan 'would turn us into accountants and auditors and take us away from what we should be doing: serving nutritious meals to children.'"

Tell Congress: Bush's Budget is Out of Whack
Budget 2004

TrueMajority writes, "In his annual budget plan, Bush proposes spending a record $399 billion on the Pentagon while cutting programs for kids. Tens of billions of dollars will still go for Cold War junk we don't need, like nuclear missiles, new nuclear submarines, and a bunch of the most expense jet fighters ever dreamed up - none of which will help us fight terrorists. Meanwhile this proposed budget shortchanges the very things that will make us safe and secure. Fill out the form to send free faxes to your Representatives in Congress urging them to create a better budget."

It's Not a Budget, It's a Campaign Speech
Budget 2004

Bush's $2.23 trillion budget is an election-year grab bag that would run up record deficits of more than $300 billion a year even without a war with Iraq. It puts off the true cost of his spending proposals and tax cuts for the rich until after the 2004 election. Politicians from all sides, even supply-siders, are complaining about how unrealistic it is. But that's okay, because it's chock-full of goodies for his political financiers. And those are the only people who benefit from it. The rest of us are toast -- dry toast, because there's no butter in it, only guns.

Bush's $2.23 Trillion Budget is 'The Most Fiscally Irresponsible in History'
Budget 2004

"Today's budget confirms that Bush is leading the most fiscally irresponsible Administration in history," said Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (S.D.) in a statement today. "Bush inherited a $5.6 trillion projected surplus. When the cost of Bush's latest proposals is added to his already failed fiscal framework, the entire surplus disappears and we will be forced to borrow $1.7 trillion. That's a downturn of $7.3 trillion in just two years -- the worst fiscal collapse in our history." Where is the outrage???