Thursday, September 08, 2005

Why Are George W. Bush And The Republicans Stealing From These Children?

by Tom Bozzo


Yes, folks, it's time for a combination Baby Extra and look at one of the Bush administration's other lingering disasters.

Seen via Calculated Risk, the Treasury Department's Bureau of the Public Debt has eye-popping figures on what constitutes "fiscal conservatism" for Bushist Republicans. Calculated Risk notes that Fiscal Year 2004 saw a record increase in the public debt, $596 billion, and shows in a nice graph that the year-over-year increases over the course of FY 2005 (ending Sept. 30) have been nearly as large.

There was, not long ago, ballyhooing from the administration and its right-side boosters regarding budget deficit forecasts showing improvement from dire (indeed, probably highballed) initial projections due to "surging" tax revenues. Proof of the efficacy of the Bush tax cuts, vindication of the Laffer curve, and campaigns for the quick beatification of the late Jude Wanniski might have been heard in the right circles. (*)

Even before Katrina, the debt increase figures for FY 2005 through the end of August weren't looking very good for an upside deficit surprise. With one month to go in the fiscal year, the total increase in the public debt is $547.9 billion. Excluding a $181.2 billion increase in the "worthless IOUs" held by the off-budget Social Security, Medicare, and Postal Service funds, the increase in debt is a healthy $367.7 billion. Of that, $306.9 billion is new debt held by the "public" and the rest was added to various other funds — for airports and airways, bank insurance, military retiree benefits, and much more. 'Surge' notwithstanding, the revenue picture is bright only in a relative sense.

Remember, the trough of the last recession was nearly four years ago — November 2001 — and by many official measures the economy has been chugging along decently if not spectacularly for much of the time. Like the anonymous commenter here who raises the frightening question of how much more Bush might have screwed up the Katrina response had he not been well-rested from his vacation, and the vacation from the vacation, it boggles the mind to think how desperate the government's finances would be if the economy had unambiguously sucked over the last couple years.

Meanwhile at Angry Bear, Kash notes that the CBO's preliminary analysis is that the Katrina relief effort will blow the on-budget deficit back towards record territory, depending on the extent to which Congress can restrain itself from larding relief legislation with irrelevant expenditures and more tax "cuts" for the rich.

That's "cuts" in scare quotes, because somebody's going to have to repay the debt being run up on behalf of the well-to-do, the default alternative being worse. If something doesn't change, one way or another it'll fall to those kids.


(*) I'm kidding about that last one. Wanniski, credited with popularizing "supply-side" (a.k.a. "voodoo") economics, hadn't yet died.
I have no words. But, from one victim of theft to another, Baby Blue is waving frantically at the pictures of your children, saying, "Hah behbeh! Hah behbeh!"
That is just adorable!
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