When President George “Dubya” Bush unveiled his proposed budget last weekend, I couldn’t help but see red.
Red as in righteous neo-socialist rage, but also as in red ink.
The 13-pound, five-volume budget book was practically leaking it from the seams.
The budget for the 2004 fiscal year (which begins Oct. 1, 2003, for reasons only economics students know) proposes a $307 billion deficit.
This will follow a projected 2003 deficit of $304 billion.
This enormous deficit is projected in spite of heavy cuts in domestic funding for programs like public housing, grants to rural public schools and health care for children.
Where did the money go?
It went to tax “relief,” military spending, and even more was lost to a whopping $647 billion in tax cuts, mainly for the rich.
The proposed elimination of the dividend tax would substantially benefit only a tiny fraction of stockholders.
An end to the estate tax was also proposed, which taxes inheritance over $1 million.
That is far more than most Americans can ever expect to see.
As for the military, Bush proposes an increase of 4.2 percent to $380 billion, about one-sixth of the entire $2.2 trillion budget.
That means that $33 of the $200 in federal taxes I paid this year will go toward depleted uranium rockets, daisy-cutter bombs, land mines and other delights of the modern age.
The budget didn’t even include the $50 to $200 billion that the upcoming war in Iraq will cost.
I have little hope that war can be avoided at this point, not with Colin Powell toeing the hawk line, and the president saying things like, “The game is over.”
The budget reflects the extreme conservatism of the current administration.
The handouts to the wealthy, massive defense spending and the attitude that the poor should lift themselves up by their bootstraps is both financially and morally irresponsible.
How can a president justify spending $12 billion on seven naval vessels — including a new aircraft carrier — while cutting spending on children’s health care?
Wasn’t this the administration of compassionate conservatism?
The only compassion I see is for defense contractors, and folks lounging by the pools of their McMansions.
When President Reagan pulled these same tricks in the 1980s, the country did not fare very well.
Budget surpluses were not seen until the end of the Clinton administration, and a river of tax cuts squandered the extra money in just two years.
Bush blames the deficit on “a war we did not choose” and the recent recession, conveniently excusing both his huge tax cut and his campaign promises for a balanced budget.
“A balanced budget is a high priority for this administration,” said the White House Budget Director, Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. “It is not the top or the only priority.”
With a $1 trillion deficit projected over the next five years, I would venture to say that Mr. Daniels is a good candidate to win a Captain Obvious award.
As for Bush, I can only hope that he wins a one-way ticket back to Texas next year before he bleeds our nation dry.
Brian White can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.