Two recent news events have special significance for the American public because they show the real agenda of some elected officials in Washington.
The first is the Bush administration’s announcement that the federal budget deficit will reach an unprecedented $455 billion this year and $475 billion in fiscal 2004. This record-breaking amount is important because it shows the Bush administration has resorted to borrowing money to pay for its day-to-day operations. Everyone knows – but few choose to admit – that the money will eventually have to be repaid by our children and our grandchildren. Mr. Bush and his political operatives are quick to spend money now, sure in the knowledge that they will be out of office and relaxing in Texas when the T-bills, notes and treasury bonds must be redeemed.
Of course, the problem with the budget deficit is not entirely Mr. Bush’s fault. A slower economy has cut back on tax contributions by both individuals and corporations. Also, the cost of the ill-considered attack on Iraq is now up to $4 billion monthly – an amount no one anticipated. However, one major item contributing to our current financial problem is the 10-year, $1.6 trillion tax reduction program signed by the president in early June. This is clearly a budget-wrecking measure. Moreover, it is aggravating the deficit because the benefits flow to the upper five percent of the population while doing nothing to promote economic growth.
The government’s financial problems began shortly after Mr. Bush took office in 2000. Since then, the budget has deteriorated by an amount equal to 4.0 percent of GDP. One-third of this deterioration has been caused by tax cuts pushed by the president and enacted by a rubber-stamp Congress. Thus, thanks to the Republicans, the federal government in 2003 is awash in red ink, spending far more money than the level of taxation will support.
The excessive spending in Washington is also having a negative effect on the economy. After reviewing the latest deficit projections, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned the Senate Banking Committee, “if you run substantial and excessive deficits over time, you are draining savings from the private sector and, other things equal, you do clearly undercut the growth of the economy.”
The second major news event was an article in a newspaper in our area that Mr. Bush raised $34.4 million in the last three months – more money than all nine of his Democratic rivals combined. Interestingly, fewer than 100 top Republicans, moguls and corporate fat cats collected one-fourth of the president’s mammoth reelection treasury. Persons who raised or contributed over $200,000 were given the status of “Rangers.” Those who collected between $100,000 and $200,000 became “Pioneers.” Not surprisingly, some top contributors were members of the far right, such as Ralph Reed, Jr.
These two news events are significant because they are related. The president’s biggest financial supporters are the very same people who are cashing in on the tax cuts that he has pushed through the Congress in the past two years. Grateful in ways that mere words cannot express, Mr. Bush’s supporters are showering him with unprecedented amounts of money. And why not? If the president’s policies reduce a person’s taxes by $500,000 over five years, a contribution by him of $200,000 to the Bush reelection campaign would be appropriate-in fact, a bargain. No one seems to be concerned that the president’s policies, collectively, are pulling the country into a financial abyss.
Thus, our picture of Republicans in Washington is now clearer: government spending without concern for how bills will be paid; massive tax cuts for the rich; and huge amounts of private money being tossed about to keep Mr. Bush and his cronies in office. Our politicians must indeed be the best that money can buy.
Gary Jacobsen lives in Woodbridge.