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The Bush Budget - Misplaced Priorities

The Meaning of the Bush Budget Proposal

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Updated February 14, 2005
On Feb 7, 2005, George Bush released to Congress the first fiscal budget of his second term. The self-proclaimed Compassionate Conservative aims to spend his "political capital" on his priorities. He plans to set this country on a new course of "freedom and democracy."

The Bush 2006 budget proposal, as submitted to Congress, has three main components:

1. Huge tax cuts The tax cuts are on the personal income of wealthy individuals, and of corporations. These Bush tax cuts will total $1.1 trillion over the next decade just for wealthy individuals. New tax breaks for businesses will sum $73 billion over a decade.

Tax cuts cause govt revenues to decrease. Therefore, there is less to spend. Less income for the govt also means less interest earned by the govt. These tax cuts would reduce govt interest income by $200 billion over ten years. Even less to spend.

2. Major increases for the Defense and Homeland Security Depts Total spending for the two depts would be $455.4 billion, of which $421.2 billion is for Donald Rusmfeld's Defense Dept. That's a 4.8% increase for Defense and a 6.8% increase for Homeland Security.

Among Defense budget line items funded are $40 billion to build a more lethal nuclear weapons arsenal; $7.8 billion to develop and test the missile defense system; $9.4 billion to build a new generation of war ships; $4.3 billion for F/A-22 Raptor fighters; $5 billion for the new Joint Strike fighter; $3.7 billion for the C-13 military transport; even $3.4 billion spiffy new Army uniforms. And $1.9 billion to close military bases in the US.

3. Very significant cuts in domestic spending Revenue coming in is lower, and military/homeland security spending is higher, so...well, there's not much left. All other federal departments will have their budgets severely cut, thus their services will be greatly impaired.

Except for the Justice Dept. The IRS, the FBI,and the DEA will all see hefty budget increases in 2006. To offset those increases, The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) will be cut by more than 95%, down to $22 million. COPS provides state and local grants to hire police officers for our cities.

The hardest hit is Education, which will see 48 progams eliminated, and many more curtailed severely. The budget eliminates $2 billion from various progams specifically aimed at assisting middle and high school students from disadvantaged neighborhoods.

The Environmental Protection Agency's budget was predictably decreased. One major line item reduction of particular note: funding to improve our nation's crumbling dams and water systems was reduced by 83%.

Under the Health & Human Services Dept, budgets were radically cut for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Administration for Children & Families and the Administration for Aging. Food stamp eligibility has been tightened to save $57 million in 2006 and $1.1 billion over ten years. (In contrast, Bush spends $1.1 billion in Iraq now in 6 days. The New York times labels Bush cuts to food stamps as "cruel.")

What does this budget say about Bush Administration priorities? Obviously it's not the budget of a President interested in peace. It's the budget of a President gleefully gearing up for fighting. Lots of lethal, violent fighting. Bombs, fighters, ships, missiles, the whole works. If history is any guide, George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld plan to use their new war toys.

Ultra-conservatives (called neo-conservatives) have always hated the so-called "welfare state." Translated, that means government helping people. Paul Krugman, Princeton economist, calls it the "beast." An efficient way to kill a beast is to starve it. By starving the govt of revenues and funds, it kills the "beast, " thus keeping it from spending funds to improve the quality of life for all Americans. There's nothing to spend.

From dams to air quality, education to police forces to disease control, the quality of life will be drastically reduced for the American middle class as well as poverty-level families. This is not a family-friendly budget. This is not even an American friendly budget.

If enacted as Bush proposes over the next ten years, this budget would substantially change the quality of American life downward to one of struggle, rather than of fading prosperity.

If one ignores the whole defense/homeland security area for a fleeting moment, what is occurring is a massive redistribution of wealth. Under the Bush scenario, the wealthy few get much wealthier, and the rest get poor education, negligible or no health care, a deteriorating environment and infrastructure, less police and fire fighters and so on. Citizens look to corporations, not govt, to meet their needs. And corporations reward the wealthiest with the best-quality services.

That, to the neo-conservative mind, is "freedom and democracy."

And to George Bush, that must be the meaning of Compassionate Conservative. Those are the Bush budget priorities.

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