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CATO Institute lambastes President Bush
CATO Institute ^ | July 31, 2003 | Veronique de Rugy and Tad DeHaven

Posted on 08/01/2003 6:05:23 PM PDT by Harlequin

The Bush administration's newly released budget projections reveal an anticipated budget deficit of $450 billion for the current fiscal year, up another $151 billion since February. Supporters and critics of the administration are tripping over themselves to blame the deficit on tax cuts, the war, and a slow economy. But the fact is we have mounting deficits because George W. Bush is the most gratuitous big spender to occupy the White House since Jimmy Carter. One could say that he has become the "Mother of All Big Spenders."

The new estimates show that, under Bush, total outlays will have risen $408 billion in just three years to $2.272 trillion: an enormous increase in federal spending of 22 percent. Administration officials privately admit that spending is too high. Yet they argue that deficits are appropriate in times of war and recession. So, is it true that the war on terrorism has resulted in an increase in defense spending? Yes. And, is it also true that a slow economy has meant a decreased stream of tax revenues to pay for government? Yes again.

But the real truth is that national defense is far from being responsible for all of the spending increases. According to the new numbers, defense spending will have risen by about 34 percent since Bush came into office. But, at the same time, non-defense discretionary spending will have skyrocketed by almost 28 percent. Government agencies that Republicans were calling to be abolished less than 10 years ago, such as education and labor, have enjoyed jaw-dropping spending increases under Bush of 70 percent and 65 percent respectively.

Now, most rational people would cut back on their spending if they knew their income was going to be reduced in the near future. Any smart company would look to cut costs should the business climate take a turn for the worse. But the administration has been free spending into the face of a recessionary economy from day one without making any serious attempt to reduce costs.

The White House spinmeisters insist that we keep the size of the deficit "in perspective." Sure it's appropriate that the budget deficit should be measured against the relative size of the economy. Today, the projected budget deficit represents 4.2 percent of the nation's GDP. Thus the folks in the Bush administration pat themselves on the back while they remind us that in the 1980s the economy handled deficits of 6 percent. So what? Apparently this administration seems to think that achieving low standards instead of the lowest is supposed to be comforting.

That the nation's budgetary situation continues to deteriorate is because the administration's fiscal policy has been decidedly more about politics than policy. Even the tax cuts, which happened to be good policy, were still political in nature considering their appeal to the Republican's conservative base. At the same time, the politicos running the Bush reelection machine have consistently tried to placate or silence the liberals and special interests by throwing money at their every whim and desire. In mathematical terms, the administration calculates that satiated conservatives plus silenced liberals equals reelection.

How else can one explain the administration publishing a glossy report criticizing farm programs and then proceeding to sign a farm bill that expands those same programs? How else can one explain the administration acknowledging that entitlements are going to bankrupt the nation if left unreformed yet pushing the largest historical expansion in Medicare one year before the election? Such blatant political maneuvering can only be described as Clintonian.

But perhaps we are being unfair to former President Clinton. After all, in inflation-adjusted terms, Clinton had overseen a total spending increase of only 3.5 percent at the same point in his administration. More importantly, after his first three years in office, non-defense discretionary spending actually went down by 0.7 percent. This is contrasted by Bush's three-year total spending increase of 15.6 percent and a 20.8 percent explosion in non-defense discretionary spending.

Sadly, the Bush administration has consistently sacrificed sound policy to the god of political expediency. From farm subsidies to Medicare expansion, purchasing reelection votes has consistently trumped principle. In fact, what we have now is a president who spends like Carter and panders like Clinton. Our only hope is that the exploding deficit will finally cause the administration to get serious about controlling spending.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: cato; conservative; economic; libertarians
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To: paulk
We're a year and a half away from election night, can you put up a candidate that will win?
41 posted on 08/01/2003 6:58:22 PM PDT by Luis Gonzalez (Yo soy la Cuba libre.)
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To: NutCrackerBoy
deep down his economics are from Milton Friedman school;

I don't think Milton Friedman would appreciate you putting his ecconomic school in bed with government expansion(what I call Socialism).

Dem policies are awful; keep them out of power!

The Dems ARE out of power! Yet it is Dem policies that are getting implemented - tax refunds to non tax payers, expansion of medicare - mark my word

Bushes next term will feature socialized medicine! Won't be public until after the election.

42 posted on 08/01/2003 6:58:25 PM PDT by paulk
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To: Mudbug
But is this congressional (as in controlling the purse strings) or administrative?

I'm not sure what you're asking here.

43 posted on 08/01/2003 6:58:37 PM PDT by AntiGuv ()
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To: AntiGuv
How is it clear in the accompanying article? The article just says that "discretionary spending increased." It doesn't say what was being compared.
44 posted on 08/01/2003 6:59:03 PM PDT by Mudbug
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To: CWOJackson
Nope.
45 posted on 08/01/2003 6:59:22 PM PDT by Luis Gonzalez (Yo soy la Cuba libre.)
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To: Luis Gonzalez
Ah, Luis...you've stumbled on one of the advantages of third parties. They can have all the answers because they know they will never have to try and impliment them. It makes planning and execution so much easier when there is no execution.
46 posted on 08/01/2003 6:59:47 PM PDT by CWOJackson (go pat go,,,going, going....gone)
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To: Mudbug
Reagan's budgets were being compared versus Bush's budgets. I don't understand what you're failing to understand about that....
47 posted on 08/01/2003 7:00:05 PM PDT by AntiGuv ()
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To: NutCrackerBoy
Don't take this personally. I understand what you are saying, but...

"Never do today what you can do tomorrow, since they have no choice but to vote for you anyway."

I am so sick of this political game plan I could scream.
48 posted on 08/01/2003 7:01:22 PM PDT by DoughtyOne
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To: CWOJackson; Do Be
Adults make decisions based upon how things are.

Children make decisions based upon how they would like things to be.

Children pretend the world is going to adapt to their desires.

Adults realize they must adapt to the world, to best get what they want.

Children think the world should be perfect, and if it's not, they quit or try to obstruct what's going on.

Adults make the best of what is, knowing it could be much better, acknowledging how wonderful it already is.

Maybe someday there will be a better person than Bush to vote for. I hope so. I personally would like to see a perfect man get elected.

But right now the adults will be voting for Bush.

121 posted on 08/01/2003 6:14 PM EDT by Do Be

49 posted on 08/01/2003 7:01:26 PM PDT by Luis Gonzalez (Yo soy la Cuba libre.)
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To: CWOJackson; Luis Gonzalez
It makes planning and execution so much easier when there is no execution.

It makes planning and execution so much easier when there is a plan to be executed. If you see any signs of a plan to decrease spending and restrain the expansion of governmnet rivalled only by LBJ's Great Society and FDR's New Deal, by all means feel free to let us know...

50 posted on 08/01/2003 7:01:49 PM PDT by AntiGuv ()
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To: DoughtyOne
"I am so sick of this political game plan I could scream."

Then leave the field.

51 posted on 08/01/2003 7:02:16 PM PDT by Luis Gonzalez (Yo soy la Cuba libre.)
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To: AntiGuv
Ah yes, I forget the cold war when Soviets were crashing airliners into our cities. And then he sent all those troops into two Soviet countries to round up their leaders, with no support from his NATO allies whatsoever. And our relations with the U.N. during his tenure were never worse...then Dorthy clicked her heels three times and was back in Kansas.
52 posted on 08/01/2003 7:02:29 PM PDT by CWOJackson (go pat go,,,going, going....gone)
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To: CWOJackson
No sure if you remember - but Reagan did handle terroist attacks, have a hostile UN, a congress that was under split control.

It's called leader ship - instead we have Bush following every demographic poll.

53 posted on 08/01/2003 7:03:39 PM PDT by paulk
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To: Luis Gonzalez
Reagan was an adult, not a child. His playbook is available for anyone who wants to dredge themselves out of the memory hole. Review the history of 1981 to 1984 and the answers are readily available...
54 posted on 08/01/2003 7:03:41 PM PDT by AntiGuv ()
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To: AntiGuv
There is a plan, you just don't like it.
55 posted on 08/01/2003 7:03:56 PM PDT by Luis Gonzalez (Yo soy la Cuba libre.)
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To: Luis Gonzalez
No Luis I'm not going to be run off this forum by the likes of you.
56 posted on 08/01/2003 7:04:20 PM PDT by DoughtyOne
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To: paulk
You're right, I don't remember anything like this during the Reagan years.
57 posted on 08/01/2003 7:04:28 PM PDT by CWOJackson (go pat go,,,going, going....gone)
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To: AntiGuv
"When I began entering into the give and take of legislative bargaining in Sacramento, a lot of the most radical conservatives who had supported me during the election didn't like it. "Compromise" was a dirty word to them and they wouldn't face the fact that we couldn't get all of what we wanted today. They wanted all or nothing and they wanted it all at once. If you don't get it all, some said, don't take anything. "I'd learned while negotiating union contracts that you seldom got everything you asked for. And I agreed with FDR, who said in 1933: 'I have no expectations of making a hit every time I come to bat. What I seek is the highest possible batting average.'

"If you got seventy-five or eighty percent of what you were asking for, I say, you take it and fight for the rest later, and that's what I told these radical conservatives who never got used to it.

~~ Ronald Reagan, in his autobiography, An American Life
58 posted on 08/01/2003 7:05:04 PM PDT by Luis Gonzalez (Yo soy la Cuba libre.)
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To: paulk
The Dems ARE out of power! Yet it is Dem policies that are getting implemented - tax refunds to non tax payers, expansion of medicare

I know. I agree. Make them lose serious seats in 2k04 and lawmaking will be less, uh, Demmish.

59 posted on 08/01/2003 7:06:42 PM PDT by NutCrackerBoy
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To: studly hungwell
Here in California, we are recalling a governor for his wasteful spending, which led to a record budget shortfall ...?

DITTOS...

60 posted on 08/01/2003 7:06:45 PM PDT by tubebender (FReepin Awesome...)
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