The increasing federal deficit under the presidency of George Bush is very disturbing when one considers that it has become larger every year since he took office. In addition, it looks like there is no end to this trend in sight.Bush said that he was looking forward to working with Congress to cut the $521 billion budget deficit in half in the next five years. Someone must be trying to pull a fast one, because Bush’s proposal is fashioned to achieve these enormous savings through a reduction in spending within a category that makes up only one-fifth of the nation’s total budget. He said that this feat could be achieved by containing growth in domestic social programs in that category to one percent this year.Even a total freeze in that category this year would save only $3 billion. The figures concerning Bush’s spending and his proposed reduction in the deficit do not add up.Political calculations behind Bush’s budget proposal are also flawed. In an election year, he expects members of Congress to cut programs that are most noticed by the general populous.Bush’s proposal attacks one section of the budget. He does not cut defense and homeland security, but rather preschool literacy programs and aid for police and firefighters. Even if Congress passed Bush’s economic policy and made such cuts, it would hardly put a dent in the deficit. While President Bush is looking into why he received incorrect intelligence on Iraq, he should re-evaluate his sources of fiscal advice, as well. From the budget he submitted to Congress earlier this month, it seems that he is being shamefully misinformed.Automatic spending on supposed entitlements such as health care, agriculture and transportation consume close to 60 percent of the budget and is driving the budget’s growth.Bush’s tax cuts make it impossible to keep pace with a budget that also calls for a seven percent increase in defense spending. This seven percent increase does not include the $60 billion for Iraq and Afganistan. Congress could save close to $150 billion over five years by refusing Bush’s request to extend tax cuts on capital gains and tax cuts on dividends, which are scheduled to expire this year. It’s not possible to maintain $1 trillion in tax cuts and to maintain extravagant spending on new weapons systems and close the deficit gap.With an ever-increasing deficit, a compelling argument can be made for stopping the reckless flow of federal spending. But Bush is choosing to focus on a crack in the foundation while in the meantime, the whole house sinks into the ground.Gorode can be reached at kgorode@campustimes.org.



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