Democratic Underground

Flawed 'New Beginnings': The Bush Clue-print
April 3, 2001
by Maren L. Hickton

Before the election, George W. Bush ran a centrist campaign and made many promises about what he would do if he became president in his "Blueprint for New Beginnings." How is he to keep his promises if his $1.6 trillion tax cut is passed?

1. Paying down the National Debt

By the Bush's charts, debt as a share of the GDP in 1980 was 26%. By the time Reagan and Bush, Sr., left office in 1990, it had escalated to 42%, nearly half the amount of the GDP. When Clinton took office, he reduced the debt by billions, to 35%. It is unrealistic to project economic growth 10 years out, but Bush spins his inaccurate numbers anyway. Hence, the calculations for paying off the debt under the President's prescription, a high priority for America, is not presently realistic, if the tax cuts are passed at the rates he describes.

2. Provide Relief for American Families

It would be great if we could reduce the tax rate for all Americans without trading cuts in taxes for cuts in necessary federal programs that the President promoted along the campaign trail. But unfortunately, the President's prospectus, "A Blueprint For New Beginnings," was written pre-election and takes into account only what was going on in the U.S. economy through the first quarter of 1999. While most Republicans (including me), are aware of this, they need to make the public aware that Bush's analysis is flawed on this basis alone.

The detailed Bush plan states, "Recent gains in real wages account for roughly 20 percent of this individual income tax surge." Not true now. Businesses have been unstable since the last quarter of 2000 and many people are in the midst of losing their jobs -- a trend in reorganization resulting from our flailing economy which is expected to continue, with or without the tax cuts.

3. Strengthen and Reform Education

The centerpiece of the Bush Blueprint, Bipartisan Education Reform, is one of the most important needs in our great nation: Children are the future of this country. But to accomplish the related tasks to fulfill the Reform's objectives will cost BILLIONS of dollars. In the current state of the economy, in accordance with the Bush Budget, many preschool and other education programs will have to be cut and with no hard evidence that the President's current budget can meet most of the educational programs he outlines if we have no tax money to pay for them. As Americans, we must decide what is important to us: a huge chunk out of the budget for tax cuts or having the necessary funds to really educate our children?

4. Modernize And Reform Social Security

The President's efforts in attempting to put forth a sound proposal regarding Social Security Reform should be applauded. However, in addition to the likely fact that "Social Security's spending trend is unsustainable in the long run," based on the demographics of longer life spans with less population growth to support the program, the current funds, the "surplus" in taxes that the President continues to discuss, must be guarded to be able to continue to support current retirees, of which the President interestingly agrees.

But as the President knows, if the tax cuts are passed, Social Security surpluses will be jeopardized, which, as they have in the past, "...been used to mask spending increases in programs unrelated to Social Security." There is simply not enough money in the "surplus" to pay for established and long-standing federal programs like Social Security and Medicare, and still meet the President's other budget objectives. The President goes on to propose that in order for Social Security reform, " must be built upon a core of individually controlled, voluntary personal retirement accounts."

The Bush administration does not want to be responsible to invest Social Security funds in the private economy. Presently, we have a zero savings rate, despite the fact that IRAs, 401Ks and all sorts of other tax-incentive savings accounts have been available for a long time. Before passing the tax cuts, we must consider the following: if the general public also discharges its responsibility to invest money for retirement, the taxpayers of the future will either have to be willing to take their extended family in, or we will have a nation of homeless seniors.

Without an active vision to find the ways and means to educate and sponsor savings programs for retirement, our children will end up with the largest tax increase ever, to recoup refunded tax monies.

5. Modernize and Reform Medicare

The need to address the Medicare program in a broad way is clear to all Americans. The expensive need for prescription drugs and nursing care to our sick and aging seniors are astronomical. Duplication of services, fraud, bureaucratic red tape, and other issues -- such as attracting professionals in the field of gerontology are some of the problems. Non-coverage for essential services such as for preventive care, including devices such as new prescription eye glasses and hearing aids for safety, are included in the problems with the current program.

However, what the President's budget fails to address is the need for extended nursing care and prescription medicine insurance and the fact that his "Immediate Helping Hand" program only provides catastrophic coverage for all seniors with over $6,000 in out-of-pocket drug costs per year." While the President promises to cover the full costs of drugs for individuals with incomes up to $11,600 and married couples with incomes up to $15,700, he has not defined how the taxpayers are all going to pay for this, which can easily be as much as $1,000 a month/per retiree.

For these reasons, the purported "surplus" that the President wants to refund to all Americans, could easily be wiped-out with the current needs of our seniors alone.

6. Revitalize National Defense

As the President points out, "Ensuring a common defense is the sworn duty and first responsibility of any President." The best defense is working with other democratic governments to promote peace. It also involves paying respect to our military forces, home and abroad, with suitable housing, competitive compensation -- and restoring morale by insuring "quality-of-life issues," and, of course, "a clear sense of mission."

The President, as part of this "revitalization" proposes a national missile defense system. The ongoing published commentary from the President concerning this extremely expensive program is creating a fearful international environment causing other nations to react negatively. While we must be ready for unknown threats and work with our allies in participating in a cooperative investment for R&D leading to international defense systems, the President cannot continue to set mandates of his own without NATO consensus. T

his would not only futher jeopardize the morale of our military, but the peace of mind of all citizens in our own country as we are now viewed as THE major threat, thanks to Bush's absense of a "clear sense of mission." Our mission is to defend -- not attack. And "attacks" include both those which are real and implied. The President has attacked other nations, real and implied, and has recently been described by the German Chancellor as an "isolationist." Peace today requires an inter-cooperation between our allies to insure growing global peace beyond the Americas.

7. Champion Compassionate Conservatism

Bush's Budget agenda includes providing federal funds to aid in the ongoing rebuilding of our nation based on the fact that, "We are obligated to care for one another because it is the right thing to do, and this moral root is the basis for civilization." Most of us agree with this including taking care of our children and offering parental support programs. But just like we cannot invade other nations with our intrinsic philosophies regarding what we believe to be the correct approach in meeting the challenges of caring for others, no Presidential administration has the right to impose his or her values as a mandate for meeting these challenges if they involve faith-based organizations.

Much of this section of the President's Blueprint is in violation of the separation of church and state, of which most major faith-based organizations agree. In fact, this initiative could do irreparable harm to many organizations: If the public assumes that they will be receiving federal funds, what would be the incentive to make donations? Further, the President has reached out to those faith-based groups most vulnerable, including minority groups, and sadly, some of these churches are so desperate for help that they are willing to compromise their own values.

All charitable groups have a duty to provide promised services without any kind of biased agenda such as deciding whether or not to provide food or other auxiliary care services based on the willingness of the participant to engage in specific religious commitments. If the President is truly compassionate, he will not toss a carrot to those less fortunate to manipulate others into participating in a program that is unconstitutional, just for the sake of serving his own agenda and/or saving tax dollars to promote tax relief.

In summary, the President's Blueprint for New Beginnings is flawed in terms of general ethics and financial integrity. It is the responsibility of those we elected, those in Congress, to make sure we have adequate and sound representation. The alternative is tyranny.


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