Today in his weekly radio address President Bush discussed the topic of federal spending. He started off by singing the praises of his economic policies. â€œSince my Administration’s tax relief was implemented four years ago, our economy has added more than eight million new jobs, and we’ve experienced 45 months of uninterrupted job growth. With more Americans working and more businesses thriving, our economy has produced record tax revenues. The Treasury Department recently reported that this year’s Federal revenues are up eight percent over last year. As a result, our Nation’s budget deficit is about one-third lower than it was at this time last year.â€ (Notice how the president conveniently leaves out that his job creation numbers are still 4.5 million short of Clinton era levels, and that his policies helped this deficit explode in the first place).
The president continued, â€œIn addition to pursuing pro-growth tax relief, my Administration is working to reduce the Federal deficit through strict fiscal discipline. Over the past three years, we have met the urgent needs of our Nation while holding the growth of annual domestic spending close to one percent — well below the rate of inflation. I’ve also proposed policies that would slow the unsustainable growth of our most serious long-term fiscal challenge: entitlement spending. By keeping taxes low and restraining Federal spending, we can meet my plan to have a balanced budget by 2012.â€ (Apparently military spending and trillion dollar Medicare prescription drug plans donâ€™t count. Bushâ€™s notion of â€œstrict fiscal disciplineâ€ is a lot like sending your kids to bed without dessert).
Bush then talked about the Democrats budgetary plans. â€œThe Democrats in Congress are trying to take us in a different direction. They’ve passed a budget that would mean higher taxes for American families and job creators, ignore the need for entitlement reform, and pile on hundreds of billions of dollars in new government spending over the next five years. This tax-and-spend approach puts our economic growth and deficit reduction at risk,â€ he said. (The Democrats are so irresponsible for bringing back the â€œpay as you go rule.â€ How dare they suggest that every tax cut, or increase in entitlement spending must be offset by a tax increase or a spending cut in another entitlement area)?
The president then made his weekly veto vow. â€œFor months, I’ve warned the Democrats in Congress that I will not accept an irresponsible tax-and-spend budget. I put Democratic leaders on notice that I will veto bills with excessive levels of spending. And I am not alone in my opposition. In the House, 147 Republicans have pledged to support fiscal discipline by opposing excessive spending. These 147 members are more than one-third needed to sustain my veto of any bills that spend too much.â€ (Ironically, these 147 Republicans and this president had no problem with spending money like it was going out of style for the past 6 years).
President Bush then talked about earmark reform. â€œAfter I announced my earmark reforms in January, the House passed a rule that called for full disclosure of earmarks. But in the past few weeks, Democratic House leaders announced that they were abandoning this commitment. Instead of full disclosure, they decided they would not make public any earmarks until after Members had already voted on the spending bills. This change would have allowed a small group of lawmakers and their unelected staff to meet behind closed doors to decide how and where to spend your tax dollars.â€
He continued, â€œIâ€™m pleased to report that earlier this week a group of House Republicans stopped this plan and extracted a commitment from House Democrats to list all earmarks in advance and give lawmakers a chance to strike them. The American people need to hold House Democrats accountable for keeping that commitment.â€ (Even though it might make the process move faster, I agree with Bush here. I like the idea of full public accountability from the beginning of the process, but the president ignored the part of the Democrats rules that mandate who proposed the earmark and who the federal money is going to must be included in the request).
The problem for President Bush is that he has zero credibility when it comes to budgeting issues. The man has proven repeatedly that he loves to spend money. He created a huge new federal bureaucracy with the Department of Homeland Security. He has spent hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars on No Child Left Behind, and his Faith Based Initiatives. This is isnâ€™t even considering that almost three quarters of a trillion dollars have been spent or allocated for the wars, and the trillion dollar Medicare prescription drug plan. The reality is that the GOP has become the party of tax cut and spend budgeting. The Democrats have become the party of fiscal budgeting. President Bush can try to play up the old political stereotypes as much as he wants, but the numbers donâ€™t lie. This president has the heart of a big spender, and he has created a budget mess that will take decades to get out of.
Â Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com. Â His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics