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President Bush’s 2005 budget and related fiscal policies misrepresent the nation’s finances, deepen the federal deficit and underfund critical areas like education and job growth.
With such an immense budget, anyone can agree or disagree with any number of individual elements. For example, I agree with the administration’s proposed funding increases for homeland security and drug-related law enforcement. And I welcome long-overdue funding of the Native Hawaiian Education Act. But this budget’s overall impact on key areas like education and rural development is severe.
In his budget, the president continues to convert the record surpluses he inherited into record deficits lasting far down the road. The $5.6 trillion dollar surplus projected for the decade after the President took office has disappeared with record annual deficits now up to $521 billion in 2004. Contrary to the administration’s representations, the causes of this reversal were not the Iraq war nor general federal spending increases, but the combination of massive revenue reductions and specific spending increases in defense and Medicare.
Essentially, the President’s message is that we can have our cake and eat it too: we can have both deep across-the-board reductions in personal, business, estate and other taxes; and we can also dramatically boost federal spending in areas vital to the administration both philosophically and politically. It doesn’t work that way, at least if you care at all about crushing national deficits and debt and what kind of budget we’ll leave to the next generation.
To worsen matters, the administration does not even factor into this budget the obvious cost of our continued military and reconstruction effort in Iraq and Afghanistan, and leaves out the cost of announced initiatives like Social Security privatization and space travel to Mars. But it does include on the revenue side surplus Social Security payments, which are supposed to be reserved to pay benefits when more benefits are being paid out than contributions taken in. In other words, things are much worse off than this administration is telling the American people.
There has been a marked increase in concern among residents across my Second Congressional District over the rapidly deteriorating federal budget. They want our federal government to both address basic needs like homeland security, education, housing, transportation and environmental protection, and provide fair levels of taxation that equitably share responsibility and foster economic and job growth, and assure the future of Social Security and Medicare, while balancing the books over time. We can do that, but not if we’re not honest with them about where we are and what we have to do.
I don’t want to hear anymore that large-scale chronic budget deficits don’t matter. Of course they do. Over time, they starve money from national savings which would otherwise be spent on business investment to increase productivity and create jobs, and raise interest rates. And revenues are increasingly diverted to national debt payments rather than crucial programs.
In the end, the president’s budget and fiscal plan does not reduce, but worsens, our growing budget crisis. It is spun as a fiscal rescue mission when in fact this administration created the very crisis it first tried to obscure, then to downplay, and now to address.
”’U.S. Congressman Ed Case (Hawaii, Second District) can be reached via email at:”’ mailto:Randy.Obata@mail.house.gov
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