Friday, February 03, 2006

Refined Thought(s) on the State of the Union

My belated $.02 on the State of the Union:

Most of what I reacted to can be summed up in this little snippet:

Every year of my presidency, we've reduced the growth of nonsecurity discretionary spending. And last year you passed bills that cut this spending.

This year my budget will cut it again and reduce or eliminate more than 140 programs that are performing poorly or not fulfilling essential priorities.

By passing these reforms, we will save the American taxpayer another $14 billion next year and stay on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009.
Read that carefully, because it's sneaky.

The important words, of course, are nonsecurity discretionary spending

Here's the take from that bastion of Liberalism, the Wall Street Journal:
The budget request for fiscal 2007 is expected to total about $2.7 trillion -- up from nearly $1.8 trillion when he [Bush] took office. According to the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, total spending rose from 2001 through 2005 by an average 7% annually, double the pace of the previous five years -- and nearly triple the average inflation rate...

An analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank, shows that mandatory spending grew to 10.8% of GDP this year, from 10% at the start of the Bush administration. Medicare has been growing twice as fast as Social Security amid rising health costs -- and that is before the tab for Mr. Bush's new prescription-drug benefit. Entitlement spending is projected to explode as baby boomers retire...

Discretionary spending for defense and domestic programs is what the president and Congress haggle over in yearly appropriations bills, and the type of spending many Americans associate with the budget. But at $894 billion in spending authority for 2006, it is less than a third of the entire pie. The center found that funding for discretionary programs has grown to 7.7% of GDP, counting expected war funding, from 6.8% in 2001 and "all of this growth came in defense and related security areas."

Defense and homeland-security funding since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has grown to 4.2% of GDP in 2006 -- or 4.6%, counting expected additional war funding -- from 3.4% in 2001. This spending can't be cut, Mr. Bush says. "Listen, we're at war," he told the Economic Club of Chicago earlier this month. "That means we've got to show extra discipline in other areas."

Also off-limits is interest on U.S. debt. After declining from 1998 through 2003, payments to creditors here and abroad jumped a near-record 14.2% in 2005, CBO reported. They are now 8% of all spending -- roughly half the size of all domestic discretionary spending, or more than the entire budgets of the departments of Agriculture, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Interior, Justice and Labor combined.
Sorry, those were big chunks.

Basically, unless you're a retiree, a potential retiree, the military, in debt service, or tapping citizen phonelines, you will see your funding cut. This has very serious implications for Cities across this country, which, for the most part, didn't "go red" in the last election.

New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and the rest of you: you are all being punished. Goodbye CDBG funding.

What's more, this is not necessarily a good position for a "captured" Congress to be in going into midterm elections; Congresscritters need to be able to show that they are bringing resources back to the district. A reduction in overall resources is going to impact individual district, and, therefore, individual races. So, for the GOP, this is a very short sighted strategy, which lead, in my opinion, inexorably to a pissed electorate.

Oh, and the "reducing the deficit" stuff is crap. If I recall correctly, this whole deficit makes it more difficult for the federal government to borrow, which means a higher interest rate from our creditors, which means it's more expensive to borrow, which means we're increasing the debt service, again. And we go round again.

But we can't afford to be isolationist either. Of course, given our list of creditors, I think we're hardly isolationists. I've decided just to send my paycheck to China this year and eliminate the middle man.

Oh, and the rest of the speech was crap too:

The domestic policies were basically a greatest hits compilation; the foreign policy (-ies?) was an admixture of jingoism and sabre rattling. [Yawn]

At least we only have to hear it twice more.

No comments: