We can cut the deficit in half if Congress “is willing to make tough choices,” says President George W. Bush. We are doomed.
Not that President Bush intends to make tough choices: His policy is borrow and borrow, spend and spend. When Bush took the oath of office, the Congressional Budget Office projected a cumulative surplus of $5.6 trillion from 2002 to 2011. The CBO now foresees a deficit of $2.9 trillion over the same period. Even when he was challenging Congress to “make tough choices,” President Bush was proposing to spend more on the National Endowment for the Arts, pushing for passage of the bloated “No Lobbyist Left Behind” energy bill, urging approval of a $1.2 billion loan to renovate the U.N. headquarters, and planning to wait until after the election to advance a supplemental appropriation to fund the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Other than tax policy, President Bush’s budget probably differs little from what would have been proposed by a President Al Gore. Politics, not principle, dominates. As budget analysts Veronique de Rugy and Tad DeHaven observe,
Even the tax cuts, which happened to be good policy, were still political in nature considering their appeal to the Republicans’ conservative base. At the same time, the politicos running the Bush reelection machine...