George Bush looked stoic in his televised address on Sept. 7, coolly and calmly projecting that paying for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would cost the United States an additional $87 billion next year.
Mind you, there still is no plan on how to use the money; Bush is asking for a blank check to deposit into his “Operation Enduring Idiocy” checking account. And, mind you, he’s asking for this money from the same nation that has lost 100,000 jobs in the past month while the president vacations in his “Western White House.”
But here’s the real kicker. Administration officials grudgingly admitted on Monday that the $87 billion Bush is asking for won’t even come from us. No, every dollar is going to be borrowed, and it’s a loan that you, I and our children will be paying off for decades to come.
Looks like Dubya is playing another round of “Bend over Mr. and Mrs. Middle Class.”
It’s not going to be the rich, the beneficiaries of Mr. Bush’s beautifully constructed tax cuts (money they don’t need), who should be worried. No, following the usual pattern, the majority of the monetary burden will fall on those who can least shoulder it: the middle class.
The New York Times reported Sunday the types of programs likely to be squeezed to pay for all this warmongering. Some soldiers coming home from fighting the senseless war in Iraq may not have anywhere to live come next year; the White House wants to cut funding for construction of housing for military families by 6 percent. The White House also wants the EPA’s budget cut by a similar amount. Luckily, Congress will likely restore at least part of those funds. And, of course, the funding for a program to create housing for 100,000 low-income families will be cut. If the cuts go ahead, it will be the first time in 30 years that vouchers for low-income housing will not be honored.
And yet, the Bush Administration keeps insisting that all is well. There is hardly a month that goes by when a congressional Republican doesn’t present a plan for more tax cuts. The president has steadfastly endorsed making his tax cuts, which will expire in 2005, permanent, thus adding a further $1.6 trillion onto the deficit.
While Bush cannot be blamed for the entire deficit, he sure is doing quite a bit to help it along. By 2011, if the tax cuts become permanent, they will account for nearly half of the total swing from surplus to deficit.
What’s worse, if congressional Republicans and Bush get their way and pass a limited prescription-drug-benefit bill and keep spending at its current level, the deficit will be at a staggering $6.2 trillion by 2013.
Something has to give; almost any mainstream economist will tell you that. But the Bush administration is living in an absurd, “Through the Looking Glass” reality. They insist their huge tax cuts will spur the economy even though many prominent economists disagree.
The Bush administration has no hesitation in spending ever-increasing amounts on defense and wars in foreign countries while cutting schools and public works funds in the United States. Don’t be fooled: we’re looking at the biggest deficit in the history of the country. Stoic or not, Dubya has to be stopped before the country takes a swan dive into a pool of inescapable red ink.
Joe Roma is a senior majoring in political science. firstname.lastname@example.org