Think you’re good at math? Economics? Bet I can trip you up.
Which increase in domestic discretionary spending is a greater threat to our nation’s fiscal health:
A) Four percent for one year
B) An average of 7 percent a year over six years.
Did you guess A? Congratulations! We have a job for you in the Bush White House.
You see, 4 percent was the cap on domestic discretionary spending growth demanded recently by the president. Never mind that over the first six years of Bush’s term, domestic discretionary spending averaged 7 percent a year, according to a Heritage Foundation report cited in the Washington Post.
But that was when Republicans controlled Congress. Now that the Democrats are in charge, the White House is getting all fiscally responsible. Sort of.
Bush vetoed a $22 billion spending increase and rejected Congress’ offer of an $11 billion hike, but then announced this week that he was “pleased” with a budget bill, passed on Monday, that would exceed that $11 billion limit with “emergency” spending on border security, veterans care, and other items.
What got cut in the process? Title 1 funding of $280 million, and $250 million for special education — a program which, many years ago, Congress vowed would be 40 percent federally funded.
Meanwhile, Congress and the president all but guaranteed the deficit will rise next year after Congress approved an arguably needed $50 billion rollback of the Alternative Minimum Tax (originally meant for wealthy taxpayers but now affecting 20 million upper-middle-income households, according to the Post) but without new offsetting taxes on private equity managers, which Bush opposed.
“I have difficulty seeing how $11 billion or $22 billion in discretionary spending on the domestic side of the equation is so fiscally irresponsible when juxtaposed against these major AMT provisions of $50 billion, or certainly against the $70-plus billion they want for the global war on terror, Iraq, and Afghanistan,” G. William Hoagland, a budget adviser to former Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, told the Post. “It doesn’t pass the sensible man’s test.”
Who said anything about sensible?
Lawrence Hardy, Senior Editor