Saturday, January 27, 2007

One plus one equals two

Most people know what adds up and what doesn't from a young age. President Bush still has not worked out how to do this yet. In the State of the Union address, Bush promised to submit "a budget that eliminates the federal deficit within the next five years." He also said he "can do so without raising taxes."

However, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) does not agree with him. The CBO released their annual report which projects future budgets. The data in the tables make it clear that the budget would either need an additional influx of cash or a substantial reduction in spending to prevent the continuation of budget deficits.

Who should Americans trust: the president who took this country from record surpluses to record deficits in a few short years or the CBO, a non-partisan congressional office? If you have a tendency to believe the CBO, then you should know what its director, Peter R. Orszag, says. He says that even if the president were able to balance the budget by 2012, the large numbers of baby boomers soon to be retiring would just send it right back into deficits.

However, the Senate is even more critical of where Bush is sending the budget. The Senate Budget Committee tells us the CBO is required to base its projections on current spending and tax law. It can't even take into consideration changes that are likely to occur. Currently, most of the funding for the Iraq war is off the budget, paid for through emergency appropriations. That means its cost, which is sure to approach half a trillion dollars, is yet to get in the budget. Furthermore, many of Bush's tax cuts are slated to expire in 2010.

Almost anyone with a grade school education can see things just don't add up. Bush might want to make those tax cuts permanent (and maybe give out some more cuts to the wealthy before he leaves office) and he might want a balanced budget in five years. However, he's about the only one who can't figure out that he can't have both.

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