President Bush entered the White House as the first President, in decades, to begin his term with a budget surplus. His successor carries no hope of repeating history. In fact, at this point the best President Bush can hope for is leaving office without increasing his already record budget deficits.
What wily plan did Bush enact to achieve this lowly goal? Cut taxes, for the rich, and increase spending on every facet of homeland security. Presenting an even larger obstacle to this possibility is that past budgets contain "hidden increases" that will balloon long after he is out of office.
Perhaps the most egregious fact about the budget legacy of President Bush is that his skyrocketing spending increases are in direct opposition to the acute needs of the USA, which need infusions of spending, but are receiving spending cuts. It doesn't take Nostradamus to predict that these cuts will result in long term and severe effects on every aspect of life in America, except for the richest one percent, as known as the "Bush Base."
After being the "Invisible President," for nine months, President Bush latched onto an issue to stake his legacy following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The most overweening aspect of a Bush budget is the dramatically increased funding for homeland security. As many have observed, the domestic budget severely downsizes funding for non-security programs, is as the security issues have received massive infusions of cash.
As just one example, the national budget for 2006 found room for double digit percentage increases in funding for programs devoted to developing lasers, atom smashers and kindred materiel. On the other hand, the budget for biomedical research slashed. Is it possible President Bush actually believes more Americans have died because of terrorism than health-related problems?
Budget cuts will affect biomedical research, first, and it won't take long to trickle down. It's a stone cold fact more Americans die, each year, from disease than from all the terrorist acts committed in this country combined. The baby boomers are growing older and with each cut in funding for medical research, more people will die each year for the next twenty years.
Adequate medical care would slow the death rate, especially for those without Medicare or personal resources to pay for health care. Medicare is a target for deep budget cuts. How deep are the wounds Medicare faces under the scalpel of the current administration? His budget would call for the elimination or reduction of over 140 Medicare programs. Ensuring a healthy, if not longer, life for those with or without coverage is questionable.
Why would President Bush cut these programs? The answer is simple. It's simple common sense. He can't cut the budget and taxes, at the same time. Post-war activities in Iraq are expensive, more than $200 billion and $100 million for the war. Lasers and atom smashers are essential budget items in the battle for homeland security and against terrorism.
The current budget includes only one new education initiative, aimed at increasing achievements in math and science. No psychic powers are necessary to see the point of this initiative. The job of schools in America is to pump out workers able to work in the technology sector, which benefits most from the heating up of post-Cold War security business also known as homeland security.
One could argue that by focusing mostly on security-related issues, President Bush creates a new wartime boom in business. Unfortunately, in doing so he also does a less impressive job of ignoring the much more pressing long-term needs. There is a precedent for what Bush is hoping to do, the Cold War military-industrial boom, which lasted from the late 1940s until the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, in 1989. It's no surprise, of course. President Bush, with his singular ability to misunderstand most matters that face him, thinks he can create a 1950s-style Cold-War economic boom, today. Bush doesn't understand that neither the United States nor the world is anything like it was following World War II. Baby boomers make up most of the American population, today. In 1950, they needed only a few dollars for diapers and baby food. Today, they need to be able to pay $40,000 hospital bills and $100 a week to fill up their gas tanks. A quick glimpse at his budget reveals what Bush's priorities are. Too bad his priorities are not the priorities of America, too. It's ethical egoism, at its best.
Tim Sexton is a writer, living in Florida, at last report.
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