Monday, February 07, 2005

A new budget!

Oh, Preznit Bush, thank you so much for your new budget! Here's some info on it (WaPo - registration required):
President Bush plans to unveil a $2.5 trillion budget today eliminating dozens of politically sensitive domestic programs, including funding for education, environmental protection and business development, while proposing significant increases for the military and international spending, according to White House documents.


About 150 programs in all would be shuttered or radically cut back to help meet Bush's goal of shaving the budget deficit in half by 2009. One out of every three of the targeted programs concerns education.


One official said the White House plans an elaborate marketing strategy to sell the cuts to voters and lawmakers as "centralizing government services and saving taxpayer money."
At long last - our government is finally being run like a business, and that means a public-relations media blitz! Rather than spending that money on helpful programs, we'll just tell people that we're "improving efficiency". Efficieny is especially important when there aren't any jobs, no one can afford health care, and now your opportunities for education are rapidly dwindling. Sounds like a great selling point.
The spending plan does not include future expenses of the continuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, nor does it include upfront transition costs of restructuring Social Security as Bush has proposed.

Those omissions provide ammunition to Democrats who dispute Bush's math. "The Administration's claim that it will cut the deficit in half by 2009 lacks credibility," said a report released last week by House Budget Committee Democrats. When the omitted items are included, along with the impact of making Bush's first-term tax cuts permanent, the report estimated that the government would rack up $6.1 trillion in deficit spending over the next decade.
Oops...while we were writing our budget, we completely forgot about the troops we had over in Iraq and Afghanistan, and completely forgot about our obsession with making those upper-tier tax cuts permanent! I'm sure those three items won't affect the budget too much, will they?

Daily Kos also has the scoop on how this will affect our veterans and the troops when they come home:
President Bush's budget would more than double the co-payment charged to many veterans for prescription drugs and would require some to pay a new fee of $250 a year for the privilege of using government health care, administration officials said Sunday.


Veterans groups attacked the proposals. Richard B. Fuller, legislative director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, said: "The proposed increase in health spending is not sufficient at a time when the number of patients is increasing and there has been a huge increase in health care costs. It will not cover the need. The enrollment fee is a health care tax, designed to raise revenue and to discourage people from enrolling."

Mr. Fuller added that the budget would force veterans hospitals and clinics to limit services. "We are already seeing an increase in waiting lists, even for some Iraq veterans," he said.

In Michigan, for example, thousands of veterans are on waiting lists for medical services, and some reservists returning from Iraq say they have been unable to obtain the care they were promised. A veterans clinic in Pontiac, Mich., put a limit on new enrollment. Cutbacks at a veterans hospital in Altoona, Pa., are forcing some veterans to seek treatment elsewhere.
These are the same brave troops that are paraded around like the heroes that they are (see: SuperBowl pregame), receiving wild applause and cheers. People seem to be enthusiastic about supporting them, but then again, we don't exactly have a government "by the people" anymore, do we?

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