Saturday, August 19, 2006

Big Spending, Big Deficit, Big Government Republicans

The congressional budget office released new budget projections last week. The "good" news in the report is that this year's deficit is not as bad as was feared. Of course, use of the word "good" in the same sentence as the CBO report, makes about as much sense as a fish on a bicycle, or, perhaps a more appropriate absurdity - flying pigs. If, before GWB was elected in 2000, I was told that the Republicans would become the party of big government, and the Democrats would become the party of fiscal responsibility, I might have replied "Right. When pigs fly out of my ...". As this chart from the CBO report confirms, we are halfway there. This is not good news. In a year that the CPI increased 3.6% and the Gross Domestic Product increased 6.6%, our Republican leaders in Washington have increased federal spending by an astounding 7.7% and are adding an additional $260 Billion to our national debt.

Here we have yet another illustration of how far today's Republicans have strayed from the path of limited government and fiscal conservativism. Adding insult to injury, we have apologists for this administration promoting the patently false, intellectually dishonest pretense that this CBO analysis is good news. What is absolutely clear from this report, is that the Republican party running our government has only a name in common with the party of Ronald Reagan, or even the party of Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America".

Apparently, the "preferred spin" is to compare this report's projection with the inflated estimates from earlier this year. Some examples, from disingenuous or delusional bloggers:

Blog on The Hill:Tax Relief Helps Shrink Deficit posted by N.J. GOP Rep. Scott Garrett
"Today’s CBO projection of another drop in the Federal budget deficit is further proof that the tax relief policies passed by this Republican Congress are fueling a real economic rebound. This latest prediction puts the deficit at $36 billion lower than the mid-year economic report from the Office of Management and Budget in July. "
A blog for all: The President's 2006 Budget Shrinks Deficit
"CBO now projects a deficit of $260 billion for fiscal year 2006, about $111 billion less than it estimated in March for the President’s budget ...I say take a bow Mr. President, the CBO was wrong, you were right, take some credit for a job well done."
Dissecting Leftism
"For 2006, the government deficit will be 2 percent of gross domestic product, down from the old baseline prediction for 2006 of 2. 6 percent. ... On Aug. 17, when the more extensive annual Update of the Budget and Economic Outlook appears, that 2 percent figure is likely to show up more definitively..."
Wow! What great news! Only last March we were prediciting that we would lose an arm and a leg, and yes we actually lost the leg but the arm was only lost up to the elbow! We saved the stump from the shoulder to the elbow! What a triumph! Just think how much greater a triumph this CBO report could have been, if we only had predicted losing both arms and legs in March!

I just don't get it. Who do they think they are kidding? I guess they are writing crap just to appeal to themselves, sort of a right wing daisy chain of mutual pseudo-intellectual masturbation. Well, at least they are enjoying themselves. In the meantime, they are helping enable this adminstration to continue driving the country at high speed, while drunk on spending, careening recklessly down a fiscal highway to hell.

I have no problem with tax cuts in general, nor with the Bush tax cuts in particular. I agree that tax cuts help the economy. I agree that they have helped stimulate economic growth and tax revenues. The problem is not the tax cuts. The problem is with the wild spending that continues to accelerate under this administration and this Congress. The spending orgy is still spinning wildly out of control. There are still no spending veto's from this President. There is still no discipline from either Congress or the President. But, there is plenty of "earmarked" pork to go around. Even enough for good old Joe Lieberman. This single party controlled government of big spending, big deficit, big government GWB Republicans were already documented last fall to outspend the single party controlled LBJ Great Society / Vietnam Democrats. This CBO report makes it clear that there is no improvement, and this administration and Congress will set the new high water mark of big government, big spending, big deficits, that may last for all time. We will never again be able to say those words "big government, big spending, big deficits" without following it with the word "Republican".

Fortunately there are conservatives that have maintained some intellectual integrity about what is really going on:

DON’T POP THE CORKS - CBO Outlook for the Federal Budget Is Still Bleak by James Horney and Richard Kogan
"The Congressional Budget Office today released new budget projections showing a deficit of $260 billion for fiscal year 2006, which will end on September 30.[1] Although such a deficit would be $30 billion lower than the Office of Management and Budget estimated on July 11, and just over $100 billion less than CBO projected last March (excluding the effects of legislation enacted since March), the new CBO projections of spending, revenues, and deficits through 2016 are not cause for celebration by those troubled by the bleak federal budget outlook. Among the reasons those concerned with fiscal responsibility should not break out the champagne are: CBO is not projecting that revenues will be higher in 2006 than the Administration estimated last month — CBO and the Office of Management and Budget both project that revenues will total $2.403 trillion this year.CBO is projecting a lower deficit for 2006 than OMB did because it believes federal agencies will spend less of the funds currently available to them by the end of the fiscal year than the agencies reported to OMB. (In some instances, that simply means that more of the funds will be spent next year.)

* A deficit of $260 billion in 2006 would represent the largest 6-year deterioration in the budget in 50 years. In 2000, there was a surplus equal to 2.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product. A deficit of $260 billion this year would be equal to an estimated 2.0 percent of GDP. That 4.4 percentage point deterioration in the budget would be the worst 6-year deterioration in half a century (the next worse was from 1998 to 2004, when the deterioration was slightly less than 4.4 percentage points). This deterioration is hardly a reason for jubilation. CBO’s deficit estimate of $260 billion in 2006 illustrates one other reality as well. Based on Joint Committee on Taxation estimates, the total cost of tax cuts enacted since January 2001 in 2006 is $258 billion (including the increased interest costs of the debt that result from the borrowing that is required to cover the lost revenues). This means that even with the spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the response to Hurricane Katrina, the federal budget would essentially be in balance this year if the tax cuts had not been enacted, or if they had been offset by either increases in other taxes or cuts in programs, as would have been required under the Pay-As-You-Go rules that tax-cut proponents first ignored and then allowed to expire."
Cato Institute: CBO Releases Latest Deficit Numbers
"The U.S. budget deficit will rise to $286 billion in fiscal 2007, up from this year's projected deficit of $260 billion, the Congressional Budget Office [CBO] predicted on Thursday. The CBO's deficit projection for the coming fiscal year was higher than the $265 billion it predicted in March."
Stephen Slivinski, the Cato Institute's director of budget studies and author of Buck Wild: How Republicans Broke the Bank and Became the Party of Big Government, comments: "The CBO report shows that the economy is rapidly expanding. Unfortunately, it shows that the budget is, too. Total government spending is expected to grow by a dramatic 7.7 percent this year -- that's faster than the projected economic growth rate (6.6 percent). And the federal budget is projected to hover at 20 percent of GDP until the end of Bush's presidency. Contrast that with the 18.5 percent of GDP that government consumed when the Republicans took total control of both Congress and the White House. It's a stark example of how the GOP has taken on the role of the party of big government... it is not blue skies ahead: the CBO report projects staggering growth in the so-called entitlement programs. Medicare spending is expected to skyrocket from $372 billion in 2006 to $909 billion by 2016. This is a spending crisis that needs to be addressed."
Repeat after me -

The Disease:
Big Spending, Big Deficit, Big Government Republicans.
Big Spending, Big Deficit, Big Government Republicans.
Big Spending, Big Deficit, Big Government Republicans.

The Cure:
Just Vote Divided.

UPDATE August 22, 2006
Speaking of conservatives with intellectual honesty, who needs Air America, when you have pundits like Joe Scarborough? Conservatives in open revolt about the spending policies are commonplace. Conservatives questioning GWB's suitability to be President? Leave it to Joe. The Washington Post covered the right wing sh*t storm in the wake of Scarborough's segment "Is Bush an Idiot?" last week:

Pundits Renounce The President
Among Conservative Voices, Discord By Peter Baker
Washington Post

"For 10 minutes, the talk show host grilled his guests about whether "George Bush's mental weakness is damaging America's credibility at home and abroad." For 10 minutes, the caption across the bottom of the television screen read, "IS BUSH AN 'IDIOT'?"Couldn't let this pass without comment... In a later telephone interview, Scarborough said he aired the segment because he kept hearing even fellow Republicans questioning Bush's capacity and leadership, particularly in Iraq. Like others, he said, he supported the war but now thinks it is time to find a way to get out. "A lot of conservatives are saying, 'Enough's enough,' " he said. Asked about the reaction to his program, he said, "The White House is not happy about it."
Joe sticks to his guns in his "Regular Joe" column:

"These days the President seems distracted, disjointed and dumbed-down in press conferences. His jokes fall flat and are often inappropriate. And like Reagan, George W. Bush seems to be getting worse with age instead of better... In the case of Bush I wonder whether there no one in the West Wing that can tell their boss he needs to spend more time in front of a teleprompter and less time watching ESPN... Has anyone considered keeping the President away from the press altogether if he is no longer up to the task of answering questions? I’m seriousIf George Bush has lost his ability to give a commanding presser, then stage manage him differently. Play to his strengths. Control Bush like Deaver controlled Reagan. Show him only in settings where he is in control ... Right now, this President cannot afford to bumble his way across the world stage. He needs to be seen as a strong, confident leader capable of managing the greatest foreign policy crisis since the Cold War."
OK, Joe says to keep the President from the press, manage him like an actor on a stage, and almost says he has alzheimers, but he still says he would vote for him. Whatever.

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