Saturday, February 12, 2005

Bush, Neoconservatives, Social Security and Fiscal Insanity

I've mentioned a recent GAO report concerning long-term projections on the federal debt and the Bush Tax cuts a few times now. Check out this GAO chart, comparing long-term forecasts for the cost of interest on the federal debt, social security, Medicare and Medicaid, along with all other government spending. The accumulated federal debt currently stands at $7.63 trillion. The current US GDP stands at $11.73 trillion. The FY2005 Federal Budget has a total of $1.94 trillion is outlayed, with about $350 Billion earmarked for paying off interest on the national debt. What this means is that 18% of your taxes are immediately wasted on paying off poor fiscal decisions from Administrations of the past -- well, Reagan, Bush Sr, and Bush Jr are almost entirely to blame.

Let's take another look at the GAO chart -- what this tells us is that, if Bush makes his tax cuts permanent, 100% of the FY2042 budget will be allocated to paying interests on the federal budget. In other words, if neocons like Reagan and the Bushes continue to run our country, the United States is going to default on it's loans and have to declare bankruptcy. Currently, interest spending on the deficit stands at a relatively modest 2.98% of the GDP, based on the number above. Clinton had us on track to eradicate the deficit - leaving with a projected $5.8 trillion surplus - enough to pay off almost all accumulated debt, and to put our country back on track. After passing a massive tax cut for the rich, declaring an unnecessary war in Iraq, and otherwise bungling the handling of the economy and health care systems, in four years, president Bush has brought us from a budget surplus to record fiscal deficits. According to the GAO projections, federal interest spending on the debt will skyrocket to almost 20% of the GDP by 2042 if we do not act now.

The GAO report indicates that relying on long-term projections is not accurate - it is only meant to be used as a tool for helping form policy decisions. In arguing for the privatization of social security, the Bush Administration has been using long-term fiscal projections, along with widespread deception and dishonesty. Look - at the beginning of Bush's first term, we were sitting pretty with a projected decade-long $5.8 trillion surplus. Relying on these numbers, Bush passed a massive tax cut that has severely damaged the long-term fiscal outlook for this country. According to this chart, published by the Citizens for Tax Justice, top 1% of the richest people in this country will receive 50% of the Bush Tax Cuts in the year 2010, while costing the country $1.3 trillion dollars. I highlighted these tax cuts to show you that the Bush Administration was not able to forecast the economic future of our country four years into the future - Would they have passed the tax cuts if they knew we were going to suffer from massive deficits - Why should we depend on forecasts that are 30-40 years into the future.

In addition to relying on inaccurate fiscal projections, the Bush Administration has utilized a great deal of intellectual dishonest in arguing for their fiscal policies. In the false argument that the Bush Administration would cut the deficit in half over the next four years, they started by used the inflated FY2004 projected numbers, rather than the actual realized budget numbers. Then, they neglected to include the cost of the Iraq War, the potential Iran War, and the cost of social security privatization into their projections. In addition, the projections used in the claim of deficit reduction used a relatively optimistic 3.8% growth rate. Meanwhile, in forecasting the future of the Social Security Trust Fund, the same Bush Administration used a pessimistic growth rate of 1.8%. In addition, one might add that the long-term outlook for the stock market isn't going to be very good with a meager thirty year economic growth rate of 1.8%.

The Bush Administration claims that they wish to privatize social security because they are interested in securing the long term interests of our country. The Bush Administration's actions speak louder than their words -- The Bush Tax Cuts and massive defense spending have put this country in long-term fiscal jeopardy. The Bush Administration has not even begun bringing the discussion of a long-term alternative energy policy to tackle the impending energy crisis. The Bush Administration repealed the Clean Air act and failed to agree to the Kyoto Accord - putting the long term environmental health of our country and world at risk. The Bush Administration is completely ignoring the impending crisis of skyrocketing health care costs, and the increasing levels of poverty in our country.

The Bush Administration is simply not in the long term future of our country in any way. It is not even remotely plausible that they could focus on an issue forty years into the future, while at the same time ignoring the real crises that will face us in the short-to-medium-term future of our nation. I'll leave you with a quote from Grover Norquist, president of American Taxpayers for Reform, and one of the leading players in the neoconservative movement to destroy American democracy:

"My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."