February 14, 2005

Bush's Immoral Budget

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 9:21 pm

Some expressions of moral outrage at Bush’s spending priorities:

A Washington Post editorial calls the budget “breathtaking”.

To meet its claimed target of cutting the deficit in half by 2009, the new budget omits the cost of the war in Iraq; the cost of the president’s proposed private accounts for Social Security; and the cost of correcting the alternative minimum tax, which is hitting growing numbers of middle-class taxpayers rather than the rich it is intended for.

To make its already unaffordable tax cuts permanent, the administration wants to change the budget-scoring rules so that the cuts show up on the score card as cost-free. In fact, making them permanent would cost $1.1 trillion over the next 10 years…

The administration also wants to make cuts in entitlement spending — some of them laudable, albeit politically unlikely… others more worrisome, particularly the $45 billion over 10 years that is to be cut from Medicaid, the shared federal-state health care program for the poor and disabled. Food stamp benefits would be eliminated for 200,000 to 300,000 people, and a freeze in child-care funding would cut the number of low-income children receiving help by 300,000 in 2009.

The administration and its allies depict these cuts as the unhappy but inevitable consequence of tough budgetary times. “This is not a time when we can have guns and butter in excess. We’re going to have a fair amount of butter,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg (R-N.H.). “But it’s just not going to be at the level that it might have been in the past if we weren’t at war.” This maddeningly blinkered mindset ignores the impact of the Bush tax cuts, which were at once unaffordable and tilted to the wealthiest Americans. Next year alone, the cost of the administration’s already enacted tax cuts will be $192 billion, not including added interest.

“It’s a budget that sets priorities,” Mr. Bush told reporters yesterday. That it does. The problem is that some of those priorities are flat wrong.

A New York Times editorial calls it a “class-war budget”.

Here’s a comparison: the Bush budget proposal would cut domestic discretionary spending, adjusted for inflation, by 16 percent over the next five years. That would mean savage cuts in education, health care, veterans’ benefits and environmental protection. Yet these cuts would save only about $66 billion per year, about one-sixth of the budget deficit.

On the other side, a rollback of Mr. Bush’s cuts in tax rates for high-income brackets, on capital gains and on dividend income would yield more than $120 billion per year in extra revenue – eliminating almost a third of the budget deficit – yet have hardly any effect on middle-income families.

The LA Times calls it a “war on the poor”.

Even more perverse, the president himself has called the country’s attention to causes that his own budget abandons. His State of the Union address admirably underscored the fight against gang violence. But the organizations that struggle to do what Bush called “giving young people, especially young men in our cities, better options than apathy, or gangs, or jail” rely on block grant funds [cut by the proposed budget.]

The president has also sworn to end homelessness in a decade, but block grants finance the city and county’s homeless services and make up 20% of the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

New ideas are welcome in the struggle against poverty. Fiscal discipline will be necessary to balance an overstretched budget. But this budget attempts neither. The war on poverty has suddenly become a war on the poor.

Jim Wallis, Convener of the faith-based anti-poverty program Call to Renewal, has issued a statement on the immorality of the 2006 federal budget proposed by President Bush:

The cost of the deficit is increasingly borne by the poor. The budget projects a record $427 billion deficit, and a promise to make tax cuts benefiting the wealthiest permanent. Religious communities spoke clearly in the past years about the perils of a domestic policy based primarily on tax cuts for the rich, program cuts for low-income people, and an expectation of faith-based charity. We must speak clearly now about a budget lacking moral vision. A budget that scapegoats the poor and fattens the rich, that asks for sacrifice mostly from those who can least afford it, is a moral outrage.

If you have not yet done so, I encourage you to use the Sojourners’ web site to email congress and tell them that this budget does not reflect your moral values.

7 Comments

  1. I could just cry.

    Comment by CC — February 15, 2005 @ 2:59 am

  2. Thank you for pulling all this together.

    The ferocity of this class warrior astonishes me.

    Comment by Marcus Tullius Cicero — February 15, 2005 @ 8:16 am

  3. Yep, me too. What amazes me is that its wrapped up in a veneer of Christian piety. Just amazing.

    Comment by Bob — February 16, 2005 @ 11:59 am

  4. Bush’s budget
    I was just invited to view another Progressive Christian blog (thanks Bob!), and found a great, concise post linking off to a number of MSM commentaries on the President’s budget. You know it’s got to be obvious when even the…

    Trackback by Tensegrities — February 19, 2005 @ 6:09 am

  5. Just a Few of Those Bothersome Facts
    Here’s another 2 or 3 “slightly minor” budget slip-ins that amount to , oh, just over a TRILLION dollars. Is the American public really this stupid? How can they EXCUSE this “tad bit” of obscuring the bare-bones facts (ie. what…

    Trackback by Movable Theoblogical — February 20, 2005 @ 10:20 am

  6. Let’s Get Jesus Back
    There is increasing discussion among progressive and liberal writers and bloggers to take religion, specifically Christianity, back from the conservatives or Christian Right, as they’re often called. Bob, over at

    Trackback by faithCommons — March 14, 2005 @ 7:44 am

  7. although because of the format, the posting was terribly unbearable to read, I think I get the point. We need more government help to fulfill our mission of helping the poor, etc. It is so funny to me how a tax break is always labeled as ‘costing’ the gov. this or that amount of money. This thinking has it backwards. We are assuming that the money is the government’s to start with. I may be a little strange, but I have always thought that the money we earn is ours and what the gov. gets is taken from us. You guys act like all of the money we earn belongs to the gov. then they give us back what they think we should have.

    Comment by John B. — February 1, 2007 @ 10:17 am

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