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Cooking America's Books
July 13, 2002
By Eric Munoz

"Every American who pays income taxes will get tax relief and the average relief for a family of four with two children will be $1,600."
— George Bush, at his Feb.5, 2001 photo-op

The White House Budget office has just revised its deficit numbers again. Upwards, again. It seems this fiscal year, the federal government will run up a deficit of some $150 billion, about $530 per every man, woman and child. Or $2120 for a family of four. Little chance we'll see the ex-Governor of Texas inviting those families back for another photo-op, this time handing them a bill for $2100. To paraphrase Mr. Bush's Feb, 2001, press briefing, twenty-one hundred dollars is a lot of money, that's one year's tuition and books at a community college, that's one month's mortgage and a car payment, that's about 30 months of electricity for a California family and that's gas for two vehicles for three years.

Bush supporters will contend that he never intended to face a national emergency, a "war" on terror, or a recession. But, on February 28th, Bush explicitly said his budget sets aside $1 trillion for the unexpected. "We should approach our nation's budget as any prudent family would, with a contingency fund for emergencies or additional spending needs," he said. Rabid right-wingers will blame Bill Clinton's infidelity or his ego, citing a permissive culture or something. But the truth is George W. Bush sold the American public on a cooked set of books.

Much like the much maligned, and deservedly so, corporate crooks now on the spot, George Bush based his budget on money that wasn't there. The same methodology that inflated stock prices, unrealistic future revenues, fake revenues or undisclosed costs, drove the unsuspecting public to buy into the market. With no real check on the securities issuers and analysts [Gingrich's Contract with (Corporate) America made sure of that by ramming through 'litigation' reform over President Clinton's veto, and the republican congress furthered that effort by stifling President Clinton's SEC Chair Arthur Levitt's attempts to separate auditing and consulting services], corporations like Enron, WorldCom, Tyco and the rest were able to fool the public into thinking everything was just peachy. Of course each company had its own way of 'cooking' the books, but the intent was always the same: inflate revenues, current or expected, or deflate expenses to bump up the stock price. Under Bush's tax cut plan, revenue forecasts for the next decade or so were based on the rosiest scenario, while outlays were calculated to grow modestly, and did not take into account population growth or inflation.

Of course, Mr. Bush did promise to run this country like a corporation, and that he certainly has. While the rich stand to reap the most from tax reductions, the poor suffer the most through a drained federal account. Much like the Kenny-Boy Lays and the Bernie Ebbers of the Wall Street crime scene, the upper 1% in income will make out like bandits, while the little guys and the poor will be holding the bag. Ken Lay and Bernie Ebbers will walk off with hundreds of millions of dollars, while their worker's pension are wiped out. For all of his rhetoric in New York earlier this week, not one of these crooks will likely face any jail time. Tens of thousands of lives are and will be affected,

Meanwhile, a poor, developmentally disabled 16 year-old kid in LA is brutalized while being arrested after his father was stopped for driving with a suspended license.

Call me crazy, but there is something seriously wrong with this picture. But then again, this is a whole new world and there are terrorists out there waiting. So just move along folks while these guys keep us "safe."

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