The Wall Street Journal has an excellent story on Bush's 2004 budget proposal today. They note that Bush Jr. is looking to top his Daddy's record deficits with his own record-breaking bid for $307 billion worth of red ink. The WSJ is remarkably blunt in its analysis of the Bush plan noting several areas where he is using slight of hand to make it look like he is increasing spending on popular programs when in reality he is not.
They note that Bush proposes a new "bioshield" initiative to blunt germ attacks, but then does not provide enough funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to keep up with inflation.
He touts $200 million in new spending to boost low-income home ownership, while at the same time eliminating $574 million in funds for refurbishing public housing units. Ah, I see! By letting the public housing projects deteriorate he will force the low-income tenants to move out and buy their own homes. A brilliant plan!
Bush proposes spending $450 million next year to fight AIDS in Africa, but would eliminate that same amount from other aid programs for poor nations.
Here is the key portion of the WSJ story:
"The budger crunch results partly from the bursting of the stock-market bubble, the recession and the increased need for homeland defense following Sept. 11. But it's also partly of the administration's own making. At the outset of his term, Mr. Bush engineered tax cuts of $1.3 trillion over 10 years. He refused to scale back that ambition as the budget picture darkened. He has, instead, proposed still more cuts, arguing that the best way to return the government to surplus is to spur economic growth - and thus higher tax collections - through tax cuts."
Ah, yes. Supply side economics, or "Voodoo economics" as Bush Sr. once termed it. That was how we ended up with the $4 trillion debt under Reagan. We finally managed to get back to budget surpluses under Clinton. How? The WSJ addresses that too...
"Mr. Bush's father and President Clinton were forced into similarly austere situations following Ronald Reagan's tax cuts. To restrain deficits, the first President Bush agreed to tax increases in exchange for handcuffs on federal speding. Mr. Clinton, too, raised taxes as one of his first acts.
The tax boosts, spending curbs and a booming economy combined to create the biggest surpluses in American history."
So there you have it. Today's history lesson. If you cut taxes and spend more than you have you end up with huge deficits and the economy suffers. If you raise taxes and eliminate the deficits, the economy turns around. It is called being fiscally responsible. Something that conservatives used to stand for.
But Bush is proving to be far more right-wing than his father and possibly even more so than Reagan or Nixon. His budget slashes funds for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Oh, and it does not account for the cost of a war in Iraq or the cost of an extended military occupation of that country during the aftermath.